Rhubarb is really a vegetable, but most rhubarb recipes treat it as a fruit. As a child I loved the beautiful rose-pink colour of rhubarb, its sharp and surprising flavour, and the way I could trail a spoonful of proper custard through my bowl and admire the patterns I made. Rhubarb mixes very well with other fruits. In summer, mix it with strawberries or raspberries; in Autumn with apples and figs; and in winter with oranges and dried fruits. It combines well with custards and cream to make delicious and very pretty ice-creams and fools.
Australian rhubarb is available all year round. It rarely requires stringing and is very tender. In winter here it grows more slowly, resulting in thinner, redder stalks. In warm weather the stalks grow thicker and tend to be greenish-red. At the greengrocer, look for bunches that are crisp and upright, and have well-coloured stalks. If you grow your own rhubarb, the best habit is to only pick it when you plan to use it immediately.
Remove the leaves, as they are poisonous. Then cut off the flat brown part of from the bottom of each stalk. Then you are ready to go ahead and prepare one of these delicious rhubarb recipes!
Puree for rhubarb recipes
Most of my favourite rhubarb dishes start with a puree. Cut into 3cm lengths & put into a heavy based, enamelled cast-iron saucepan, add a couple of spoonfuls of water and cover tightly. Stand the saucepan over a medium heat for 5 mins, lift lid and stir. In a few more minutes it will have cooked to a soft puree. An addition of a rose-scented geranium leaf to the pan adds an intriguing perfume to rhubarb recipes.
The Cook’s Companion App and book.