Friday, 30 April 2010

First rhubarb of the season

I've just been out and harvested the first of the rhubarb - wonderful! The first is always such a stunning colour, the leaves a crinkle of pure spring green. I just stew the first picking getnly, with a little sugar and a leaf of sweet cicely - no coincidence it's ready when the rhubarb is :) Other good things - rhubarb schnapps is excelllent, and a good way of preserving the deep ink colour. This is very easy - fill a Kilner or simlar a third full of chopped young pink rhubarb, add a couple of tablespoons og sugar and top up with vodka; leave 3 months or so, giving it a good shake every so often. I also make fools and pies, cakes, etc, and bottle a few jars for later in the year. When the stalks get older and greener, it's time for jam and chutney. The time to stop pulling it is when the first gooseberries are ready, when the oxalic acid is beginning to concentrate in the plant, leaving it bitter and unpalatable.
I use the leaves too - boil them up in water, strain, and use as a spray against blackfly on broad beans and nasturtiums. Again, no coincidence in the timings - nature comes through again :) Otherwise, they're sued for sheet mulching, or put on to the compost heaps.
The tray is full of rhubarb seedlings - far more germinated than I expected! No matter, I'll grow them on and give away to friends probably, keeping some for myself to renew my stock; this one is Glaskins Perpetual, looking forward to trying it in a couple of years time.
Can't have too much rhubarb, it's such a versatile plant and fruit.


Quilting Cat said...

I am also busy picking and making crumbles. I usually make rhubarb and ginger jam but this year thought orange and rhubarb would be a change. Unfortunately lost my sweetcicily plant this winter.

Leanne said...

i should be able to pick my first sticks of rhubarb this weekend too :-) Not a lot but its only me that really likes it...

Leanne x

Eco Gites of Lenault said...

Picking rhubarb like mad here and I have just made Rhubeena which everyone seemed to enjoy if the speed it was consumed is anything to go by! Rhubarb and date chutney has also been requested by younger son.

Rosie x