Photo: Svadilfari (flickr)
Rhubarb is ready for picking on the farm. It seems to grow as we watch, soon taking over any weeds that even consider growing in the patch.
Not many know what to do with this old fashioned favorite. In our home, we put up many pounds of it and always run out before the following spring.
A Neighborly Vegetable
Rhubarb is one of those neighborly vegetables, because it is usually grown from rootstock. Ask your local farmer if he has a patch that you can dig your own roots from. A patch can be divided every three years, and anyone with rhubarb will eventually have extra roots.
Like asparagus, rhubarb should be planted the first year and not harvested. The second year, a small harvest is fine. The third year, you can harvest for 4 or 5 weeks and then allow the plant to grow and die back undisturbed. After that, pick all you want.
In the fall, after the plant has died down, but before deep frost, add composted manure to the area. Rhubarb is a heavy feeder, and compost will help it grow plenty of stalks the following season.
Cooking With Rhubarb
Now, how to eat all this beautiful bounty?
I like to make pies, breads, sauces and juice from our patch. One easy way that everyone enjoys rhubarb is to make a simple crisp. A crisp is sort of a pie – deconstructed. It is a great way to have a fast, delicious dessert with little fuss.
I’m sharing my recipe, but feel free to experiment. Rhubarb tastes especially nice with brown sugar and seasoned with ginger.
Recipe: Rhubarb Crisp
- 6 cups of sliced rhubarb
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup oats
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup unbleached flour
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1/3 cup butter
- Mix granulated sugar with rhubarb and place in a 9 X 13 pan
- Combine oats, brown sugar, flour, and ginger in a small bowl.
- Cut in butter, until mixture is combined and has created coarse crumbs.
- Top fruit with crumb mixture and bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve over vanilla ice cream or top with fresh cream.