Saturday, 18 April 2009

Rhubarb rhubarb..........

At last it's time for rhubarb! Bit late here, as my two existing crowns got raided by the chickens! I also planted tow more, so wil have double the crop next year, all things being equal and no chicken invasions.......
So - what to do with rhubarb? The first fruit of the seasons, it's always welcome,a nd very versatile. My first picking usually goes into rhubarb schnapps:

About half a dozen nice red stems to a bottle of vodka and a couple of spoonfuls of sugar; into a Kiolner jar or similar, good shake , and store in a coold ark place for a couple of months, shaking occasionally. Strain into bottles, label and store. Very, very good.

Use the leaves of the plant to make an effective spray agains blackfyl on broad beans, but spray before the blackfly arrives. Just boil the leaves in water for a few hours, strain and bottle the resulting liquid - LABEL WELL and keep it out of the way of children. Rhubarb contains oxalic acid, which is toxic.

It makes one of the best crumbles, also good for pies, and married with ginger makes a beautiful jam. Goes well with real vanilla flavourings too, orange and gigner, makes lovely fools and ice creams and stores very well being bottled in Kilner jars or similar, to see you through until next season.

About June-ish, the oxalic acid starts travelling downwards towards the stems, so stop picking then; an old way to remember is to stop picking teh rhubarb when teh first gooseberries are ready, a mehtod I've used for years. Actually, teh stalks should be pulled, rather than cut or picked, gently pulling to remove them with a whitish heel on them.

Baking is better than stewing, as the fruit will hold its shape well. Cooked, it freezes well.

Remove the flowers as they form, to prevent the plant running to seed, and to ensure its vigour for building up for next year. A good thick mulch of manure will do it the world of good over winter, topped off with a winter cap of straw, and you'll be harvesting it again before you know it.

1 comment:

thesnailgarden said...

We are having rhubarb crumble today, the first stems picked this season. I always chop and freeze my rhubarb before cooking, but it does make a lot of juice that way when cooked. Is it too juicy when the cooked rhubarb is defrosted? Best wishes, Pj x