Monday, April 27

Just a load of rhubarb

Our crop of the moment is rhubarb.
The other day when we were watching Gardeners' World, Monty Don removed the forcing jar from his rhubarb to reveal some weak floppy stems of rhubarb. Now I know it is sacrilege for me to say this (living within the area renowned for growing forced rhubarb) but forced rhubarb has never appealed to me.

Maybe it is the fact that I have picked and eaten fresh rhubarb from the garden from childhood but forcing rhubarb seems wrong.

Fields around us are full of poor, unsuspecting plants building up their strength before being imprisoned in darkness.
Within the confines of windowless forcing sheds they strain to find light and grow pale and weak.
Photo from Google Earth
Eventually the plant's strength is exhausted and they die.

I have to admit that rhubarb forcing jar are very attractive ...



... but spare a thought for the poor plant languishing beneath the jar.

As for us we will enjoy our rhubarb from plants that can feel the sun (well sometimes) on their leaves and the wind (more likely) blowing between their stems.




Our happy plants repay us year after year with ...


So what did we make with these gorgeous sticks of loveliness pulled (you pull rhubarb rather than cut or pick it)?




Rhubarb and custard for Sunday dinner and probably a rhubarb sauce to accompany a pork steak on Monday. We even had some with our morning porridge.




Try getting all that from just two sticks of forced rhubarb.

51 comments:

  1. I've never forced rhubarb but I've always wanted too - to see if it does make a difference. I agree with you though - straight from the garden does make a difference. Mine is ready for picking so a crumble is planned for this Sunday. x

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    1. It's supposed to taste sweeter, Jo but I like it as it is.

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  2. Great post! I agree - much better to see huge rhubarb plants out in the open. Ooh, and rhubarb meringue! Mmm!

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    1. I agree in it;s own way it is a very ornamental plant, Belinda

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  3. Wow those are huge leaves. I'm mean to my rhubarb. I don't force it, but I do keep it cut back regularly. It is planted too close to the air conditioner and I can't let it get big enough to block it. And I love all those rhubarb meal photos. Yum!

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    1. Rhubarb doesn't respond well to being cut as tpals says can't you move it?

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  4. I am jealous of all your rhubarb. In our old garden we had a lot of it (we used it as an hedge between two sections of the garden. We have some here but rhubarb is not happy it grows but it sulks.

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    1. Maybe the soil just isn't right, Alain - gave you tried a mulch of well rotted manure

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  5. That rhubarb meringue looks delish, can't beat a crumble in my opinion though. I remember my grandpa putting a bucket over his rhubarb to force it, I do love the look of the forcing pots but I've never forced my own plants.

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    1. The rhubarb meringue can be tricky if the rhubarb omxture is too runny you end up with a mess, Been there, Jo

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  6. We also only eat free-range rhubarb.
    Pork and rhubarb burgers are a new one on me, but I've got some pork in the freezer so they should be on the menu sometime soon.

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    1. Hope that you ;like the burgers S and D. My version is on this post

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  7. No wonder your neck of the woods is famous for its rhubarb if it grows so well on your soil.

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    1. The industry developed alongside the coal and woollen industry too. Roger. Coal to heat the sheds and wool waster used as a mulch. There was also a rhubarb express taking the freshly pulled stems to Covent garden. Over the years the number if growers has greatly decreased,

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  8. Holy cow - can't get over the size of those leaves. I didn't grow up eating rhubarb and have not yet developed a taste for it; do feel like I'm missing out, though, as everyone else seems to love it!

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    1. When I was young our dog would sleep under the rhubarb leaves, Margaret, They make great umbrellas or parasols

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  9. I'm glad to hear you say your not a fan of forced rhubarb, as I'm not either. I'm not impress with it and waiting another week or two or three surely gives better results and just as tasty. I enjoyed your post on rhubarb and the cooking tips are fab!!

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    1. The weak spindly forced stuff looks just what it is, a stem from a dying plant, Kelli. Which other plant do we grow just to kill off later?

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  10. You've made my mouth water Sue! I don't think I've ever come across someone that actually goes to the bother of forcing their rhubarb. My neighbour has harvested theirs this week and we had a lovely bit pot of it handed in. She even went to the bother of cooking it for us. Now that's neighbourly :)

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    1. That is indeed, Angie. We just pull it when we want it and enough to freeze but leave plenty on to feed the plant.

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  11. I like the terracotta pots too, but a compost bin "dalek" is much better as you can get 2ft long blanched stems. (I can prove it) My other half shares your dislike for blanched stems as they are "too lacking in bite". I would say more delicate. And in order not to confuse your readers you should distinguish between blanched rhubarb and forced rhubarb. The former just has a pot popped over it in situ, the later is dug up and grown on in heated sheds.

    p.s Glad to see the porridge triangle extends as far as Ossett - but we only have salt and milk in ours.

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    1. So you like the delicate things in life eh, Mal? We enjoy our morning porridge with fruit of some sort instead of sugar, It's been stewed quince this week.. Neither of is like salty tastes, When I was a kid and crisps came with a little blue twist of salt I never used it, them they spoiled things by making crisps ready salted

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  12. I have to admit I have never seen Rhubarb leaves as big as yours! Unlike you, I do love eating forced Rhubarb. It has a really delicate flavour and texture. I have never forced any, but if I were to do so I would force it one year and then let it recover for another two or three seasons before forcing again.

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    1. The commercial producers compost is after harvesting Mark as they pull to destruction. Home growers do tend to leave some stems on the plant to let it recover some strength and leave the plant uncovered for two years or so with a 'nice' thick mulch of manure.

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  13. I've always fancied one of those terracotta forcing jars. Like you, I like my rhubarb red..the redder the bedder'

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    1. I like the jars bit they would soon go walkies on the plot,Bren and I wouldn't want to imprison the poor rhubarb in one, Ours wouldn't for anyway as they are rather large clumps.

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  14. I've never tried rhubarb with pork,must give it a go. And woe is me, for the first time in years my greengage is full of blossom and bees, and tonight it is cold, windy and the blossoms are blowing off:(

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    1. It's windy here today too sweffling.- I'm, also concerned for any tiny fruitlets that have formed as well as remaining blossom.

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  15. Mmm, some really delicious dishes there, especially the meringue and of course the crumble. My inherited allotment rhubarb is quite weak. I've always thought it was because of where it is, maybe it's old and maybe it doesn't like the weeds and grass it has to compete with in the summer. But now it occurs to me that maybe it's had a life of being forced. There were certainly a couple of bottomless bins left nearby. I've never forced my rhubarb, and we never did when I was growing up. Perfectly happy with free range sun grown rhubarb. I had a sad few little sticks the other day, and I watched a man picking from a patch that must have been ten feet long, four feed wide and three feet high, it was fantastic. If my inherited rhubarb doesn't pick up this year I shall think about replacing it. There's something really special about the earliest crops of the year isn't there.

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    1. Next spring before ot gets growing too much - dig it up and clean out any weed roots etc,
      Remove any dried up dead looking bits - you want the fat healthy looking 'lumps'. Thoroughly weed the planting area and apply fertiliser and some well rotted manure and replant - so the crown is showing and mulch wit well rotted manure.

      If you want to try and build the plant up before moving, fertilise and mulch with manure this year CJ.this year CJ

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    2. Thanks for the tips Sue, I shall mulch it next time I'm down there.

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  16. That is beautiful rhubarb. I have never tried it. I love your list of ways to eat rhubarb.

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    1. Living round here rhubarb was a compulsory food from a young age, Cristy

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  17. Woah, those are two big stems of rhubarb !

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    1. And great big leaves to hide behind, Lou

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  18. My son loves a stalk of rhubarb for a snack, but it will be weeks before ours is ready. I planted two new clumps last fall and they both survived the winter. Yours look amazing.

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    1. Some of our varieties are not yet ready fro eating tpals, As a child we were given a stick to dip in sugar and eat as a treat, Probably not good for the teeth but that wasn't thought about them.

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  19. I've been imagining how the rhubarb taste look like. Here, rhubarb is only grown for its root for pharmacy industry and traditional cigarette. This plant is only grown on the mountain, that have cool weather a long the year.

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    1. What is the root used for Endah? Without sugar added the rhubarb is very sour, The forced stems are sweeter but floppy.

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  20. I just started a new rhubarb patch last year and I am looking forward to getting a small taste of it this year. I've always used it in sweet recipes like crumbles or just stewed it with sugar. I'm hoping to try some savory recipes once the plants (and harvests) get bigger.

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    1. We're always looking at new ways to use it Dave. I tried to hint to our butcher that pork and rhubarb sausage was a good idea!

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    2. By the way it is used a lot with mackerel but we don't like mackerel

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  21. Rhubarb sauce with pork now that sounds interesting, forced rhubarb not for us either

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    1. We have it as an alternative to apple sauce David

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  22. Mmmmmm - had never thought of using rhubarb in burgers Sue. How much do you use? I admire indeed covet rhubarb forcers but feel sorry for the occupants. Nothing beats the sunshine on your head :)

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  23. Oh my! Just look at the size of your rhubarb leaves!!! I totally agree, forced rhubarb does look pathetic.....even if it didn't, your description of those weak dying plants would have converted me.
    Yum! Those dishes look simply scrumptious!!!

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    1. I will maybe be driven from the area now, Dina

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  24. Wonderful post :-) I am so glad I'm not the only one who is unimpressed by forcing rhubarb plants. I can't see the point - why destroy a perfectly good plant just to get a few lanky stems a couple of weeks early?

    I lost our rhubarb plants a couple of years ago and they need to be replaced.

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    1. I guess when grown in the garden forced rhubarb can recover, Jayne if it is only under the forcing jar for a short period but the plants are bound to be weakened. Seems amongst my commenters rhubarb au naturel is the winner.

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