If you missed National Rhubarb Pie Day back in January, don’t fret. Today brings another excuse to eat rhubarb desserts. Not only is it in season in the Northern Hemisphere, but it’s also National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day today! To celebrate, Dessert Advisor is going to take a look at the various ways in which to consume the versatile ruby stalks and which parts to avoid. We also have some bonus uses that your grandmother probably already knows about.
Let’s begin with fruit pairings. Often, people will combine the edible rhubarb stalks with strawberry or ginger, but sometimes cinnamon and nutmeg.After stewing with sugar, these can transform in the shape of delectable desserts. These include cakes, pies, crisps or crumbles. Don’t forget sweet and sticky jams, granola bars, and other dessert dishes like strawberry rhubarb pie and … rhubarb fool! This last one being when you combine the compote with freshly whipped cream. Yum! The stems can also be pickled, made into relishes or chutneys. You can also serve them as an addition to savoury dishes, such as chicken and salmon. We have even seen recipes for rhubarb salsa!
As it’s naturally tart, it makes it a good substitute for cranberries, plus it can be used in a variety of refreshing summer-time beverages. Some people even use it to make alcoholic drinks. Take the Finnish who ferment it to produce sima, which is a type of mead. One interesting beverage we knew nothing about, is kompot. This can be popular in the southern, eastern, and central parts of Europe. You can serve kompot hot or cold. Make it by cooking your favourite fruits like strawberries, apricots, peaches, plums, rhubarb, and cherries, with water, sugar, and spices.
Another use we haven’t touched on yet is rhubarb’s medicinal ability to alleviate digestive complaints, particularly when it’s in powder form. Noted as being a safe and simple purgative, some also use it to combat persistent diarrhoea… One part we do not want to consume, however, are the green leaves as they contain high levels of something called oxalic acid. This is really effective in causing burns, nausea, gastroenteritis, and convulsions. But wait a second, we’re the Dessert Advisor, so we want to be talking about rhubarb desserts!
As a rule, the redder the stalks, the greater the natural sweetness. Understanding this, most countries grow rhubarb in heated greenhouses also known as hothouses. This can happen all year round and results in the much desired redder, sweeter, and more tender stalks. The English play with the seasons a little more and harvest their crops earlier than everyone else thanks to rhubarb forcers, that are really just big ceramic looking lids. Limiting the light, they apparently harvest their crop by candlelight!
After that piece of information, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to read we can use the scarlet vegetable to dye eggs shells and hair, but we can also use rhubarb fibres to knit sweaters/jumpers. It’s true – you can read more in this book if you’re interested, Rhubarb: More Than Just Pies.
Hopefully that’s enough rhubarb desserts for thought. Until next time, Happy Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day!