Hooray! Whether forced or left to grow naturally, rhubarb is now unstoppable. There are so many ways you can enjoy it, let me tell you about my 3 favourites:
1 – Bake It!
Wash the rhubarb and as always, make sure you cut the leaves off, plus a bit of stem at the top and never eat that. Cut the stems into inch long pieces; if they are very thick, slice them in half. Spread them out on a non metal baking dish, quite full but not overflowing. Sprinkle on some brown sugar, (infused with vanilla if you have it), or some cinnamon and sugar, or white sugar or honey – and then squeeze over it the juice of any old clementine or orange. Bake at about 150-180 Celsius (gas 5-7) for 15 minutes and then leave the oven on but the door shut. If you filled the tray up a lot, bake it a bit longer.
The pieces will shrink and become very soft and delicious, still sour, also sweet. I put them on my muesli or eat them like little treats.
2 – Juice It! (and make crumble, the two can go hand in hand)
Put the washed and chopped pieces into a saucepan and, if you have any and want to, add apple pieces (or pear, or oranges or frozen berries). If you want more juice, also add some apple juice and a small amount of sugar (or none). Cook for a short while. Pour the juice into a mug for drinking. Pour the fruit into an ovenproof bowl.
Use the same saucepan you just had without cleaning it to make the crumble mixture by melting some butter or margarine or oil in it. You can use the same hot plate that is turned off if you have an electric cooker, it will still be warm enough. (The amount of oil depends on how calorific you want this to be.) In a separate bowl mix 1 measure (e.g a cup) of rolled porridge oats, 1 measure of flour and 1/2 a measure or less of sugar. Once the oil is melted, put in the dry ingredients and stir them with a wooden spoon until it all comes together like breadcrumbs. Pour those on top of the fruit and bake in the 180 Celsius oven until it is bubbling and a bit brown. Usually no more than 20 minutes.
Enjoy with your choice of cream, custard or ice cream! This recipe works with any fruit if you don’t have rhubarb later in the year.
3 – Jam It! (I call it Magic Jam as nobody ever guesses what is in it)
- 700 grams of rhubarb
- 300 grams of raspberries (frozen at this time of year)
- 500 grams of sugar
- a sachet of Doctor Oetger 2:1 Gelfix – if you can get one you often find it in Polish shops. This powder helps make sure jam sets perfectly with half as much sugar as fruit. Alternatively use pectin.
Cut all fruit small, place in a big pot with most of the sugar (but not yet the sachet) and leave to steep for a few hours. Then add the sachet mixed with last of the sugar, stir and boil and stir for 4 minutes only. Have 4 very clean jars ready to pour it in while hot and you’re done. Put the lids on and if they seal (you’ll hear the lids ‘pop’ as the cooling jam creates a vacuum), the jam will last for a long time. Once open keep in the fridge.