Life and thoughts from a small-scale organic farm . . . and its farmers

This is a blog that explores ideas around the growing of food and community at Glen Valley Organic Farm.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When life gives you rhubarb, just add sugar

Rhubarb season has been a blast thus far and with strawberries just around the corner, nature's perfect culinary combination is about to blast onto the scene.

Rhubarb really is an amazing spring food. It is hardy, arriving in the garden before much of anything else. Its root has been used medicinally for millennia (for chronic diarrhea and hemorrhoids, if you must know) and the stalk increases appetite and acts as a mild laxative. That makes it the perfect spring cleanse food! Just don't eat the leaves (in case you felt inspired). They're toxic.

Of course, rhubarb is unpalatable to most people without the addition of sugar. The plant didn't even come into common usage in Europe until colonialism brought cheap sugar to the masses (yes, colonialism and slavery underwrites much of the history of our modern culinary traditions -- even to this day). But I digress.

By mid-June, when the season has been slow to pick-up, we know that after a month of rhubarb and before the strawberries arrive, you might be looking for some new ideas. Here are a few of our favorite recipes (as provided by

Stewed Rhubarb with Added Spices

When stewing rhubarb, add chai spices (cardamon, star anise, cinnamon and ginger) or citrus rind and juice.

Stewed rhubarb is great on its own, with yoghurt and/or with granola. And it's best with rich custard -- don't forget to pick up some eggs and heavy cream for a heavenly spring treat (I think the custard negates the spring tonic aspect of rhubarb . . . if you care).

Rhubarb Sorbet

1.5 lb rhubarb, cut in 5 cm pieces

25 mL water

175 mL sugar

5 mL vanilla

1 egg white

Puree rhubarb with water. Add sugar and cook until rhubarb is tender (about 5 min), stirring frequently. Remove from heat; add vanilla and food coloring. Cool to room temperature. Beat egg white until stiff but not dry. Fold into rhubarb mixture. Pour into 2.5 L baking dish (23 cm square). Freeze until firm around edges (about 1 h). Turn into chilled bowl; beat until smooth. Freeze partially (about 1 h more); beat again. Freeze until firm (about 2 h more). Makes 8 servings (125 mL each). If you have an ice cream maker, use it to freeze the sorbet.

Rhubarb Frozen Yogurt

2 Cups Stewed rhubarb

1/2 Cup Plain yogurt

3 Tablespoons Granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons Orange juice

In food processor puree stewed rhubarb until smooth. Blend in yogurt, sugar and orange juice. Freeze in icecream maker or cover and freeze in shallow metal pan for 3 to 4 hrs or until almost firm. Break up mixture and process in food processor in batches if necessary until smooth. Freeze in airtight container for 1 hour or until firm.

Fish with Rhubarb Sauce

2 c rhubarb cut into small pieces

1/2 c tomato sauce

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp sugar

1/2 c water


1 lb fish

Wash rhubarb well. Peel off the hard skin.

Cook all ingredients except fish together in a pot for 30 minutes, until rhubarb is cooked thoroughly.

Add cut-up pieces of fish and simmer until fish is cooked.

Chicken Smothered In Rhubarb

3 1/2 pound chicken, cut into 10 serving pieces


1 tablespoon flour

1/4 cup olive oil

1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

2 medium onions, julienned

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 bay leaf

Fresh thyme sprigs

1 cup white wine

3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Garnish: 2 cups cooked white rice, warm, 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

In a mixing bowl, toss the chickens with Essence and flour. In a large heavy pot, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, brown the chicken for 6 to 8 minutes on each side. Add the rhubarb and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Stirring constantly, wilt and brown the onions, scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any brown particles, for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, herbs and wine, cover and reduce the heat. Stir occasionally and cook for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Stir in the parsley. Arrange the chicken on a platter and garnish with Essence (eseence of emril) and parsley and serve with rice.

Baked Chicken And Rhubarb

3 lb. chicken breasts and thighs or 1 whole chicken cut up

2 c. diced rhubarb (1/2-inch pieces)

1/3 c. sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 1/2 c. water

2 tsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

rice for serving

Combine cornstarch, sugar, rhubarb and water in a saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Cook until clear and thickened, about 2 minutes. Add lemon juice. Cool.

Place chicken in a shallow baking dish. Brush with butter and sprinkle with salt. Bake uncovered in 375 degrees oven for 30 minutes. Spoon rhubarb sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with spices. Return to oven and bake 20 minutes longer. Serve immediately with sauce spooned over chicken. Serve with hot cooked rice. Yields 4 to 6 servings.

Almond Rhubarb Coffee Cake

1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar

2/3 c. vegetable oil

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

2 1/2 c. flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 c. milk

1 1/2 c. finely chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb

1/2 c. sugar


1/3 c. sugar

1 Tbls. butter, melted

1/4 c. sliced almonds

Beat brown sugar, oil, egg & vanilla until smooth. Combine flour salt & baking soda; add to sugar mixture alternately with milk. Beat until smooth. Stir in Rhubarb & almonds. Pour into 2 greased 9-inch round cake pans. For topping, combine sugar & butter; stir in almonds. Sprinkle over batter. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or test done.

Need more ideas? Check out for more rhubarb ideas than you ever thought possible.

1 comment:

  1. I just like rhubarb syrup for my soda water. And I eat the pulp. with or without vanilla ice cream.