Monday, 9 March 2015

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb!!!

Rhubarb stems
On Friday I am aiming to share with you a rhubarb recipe, but in the meantime here's a little about my favourite vegetable.

Yes, rhubarb is actually a vegetable!  Yet the vast majority of us cook with rhubarb as though it's a fruit, I certainly include myself in that group.

Living in Yorkshire and near the famous rhubarb triangle, I am familiar with forced rhubarb.  It's actually grown in dark sheds which encourages the stems to emerge from the ground and grow far sooner than the rhubarb we see on allotments.   The forced rhubarb stems are actually picked by candle-light in order to maintain that darkness!  Forced rhubarb is actually a little sweeter than the usual stuff and is available to buy between January and March.  You can read more about forced rhubarb here.and here
Rhubarb stems

If you're off to a pub quiz any time soon, here are a few more rhubarb facts for you!
1. Rhubarb is a powerful anti-oxidant.  The redder stems actually carry more vitamin A than the green ones.
2. The rhubarb stems are also a food source of dietry fibre, low in saturated fat and contain several B-complex vitamins. Read here for more nutrition facts
3.  The broad heart shaped leaves are actually poisonous to cats, dogs and humans if eaten in large enough quantities!
4. Once harvested, the leaves should be removed to prevent them from pulling nutrients away from the stems.
5.  Rhubarb is a perennial plant.  It stores it's energy in its roots (rhizones), so once spring time arrives (it's not far away! Hurrah for spring time!) the rhubarb plant starts to grow again.  My neighbour's rhubarb plant is starting to grow again.  As a result it's easy to grow and lives for many years.
Home grown rhubarb
 6. Rhubarb plants are fairly cheap to buy, around £6 from a garden centre, which in my opinion is a good price given the number of years use you'll have from it. If you fancy a rhubarb plant and don't have a spare £6, why not ask an allotment holder, nicely, if they have part of the root available.  Once you've planted it, it'll soon start growing  A rhubarb plant for free!  What's not to like!

Go, on get yourself some rhubarb!!

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