One of the staples in our Food forest is the Rhubarb plant which grows back year after year. They are quite easy to grow, loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, calcium and are high in fibre.
Growing – The stalk of the rhubarb can be either red or green and it looks a little like celery. Stems are just pulled off and Rhubarb is ready to harvest in spring and early summer when it’s nice and firm with a lovely shiny stalk. Two to three plants are generally enough for a family of four. Due to it being a perennial and coming back year after year make sure where you plant it is where you intend for it to stay, having said that you can move it when you divide the plant into sets. The plant prefers a temperate climate and needs a couple of good frosts in winter.
Care – If the plant goes to seed this can be an indication that the plant is under stress. Rhubarb will always suffer in the warmer weather but comes to life and real growth in the colder months.
Rhubarb likes to be well nourished with regular feeds of cow and chicken manure in spring and autumn to help it hold moisture in the soil. It likes full sun and should be mulched well in summer and manure or compost should be added to the soil after planting. It can also be fertilized in spring with blood and bone and a sprinkling of potash.
The leaves and roots of the rhubarb plant are poisonous (can lead to kidney damage) for both humans and animals so don’t eat them or feed them to the chooks or bunnies.
Harvest – Stems in Spring and early Summer.
Propagation – Don’t let Rhubarb go to seed and if any stems go to flower cut them off as the plant will put all of its energy into the seed and not the stem. We left one to go to seed just to see what happens, however will not try to grow them from seed as it is apparently quite difficult and just as easy to divide the plant.
Every 3-4 years after the plant has become dormant and the leaves have died down in winter months, the plant can be divided with a spade. The roots are yellow, fleshy, quite large and soft and very easily separated (a great gift for friends). New sets are planted 90cm apart with the main bud showing just above the surface of the soil. When replanting the crown should not be buried as it can easily rot when wet. It’s best not to harvest the plant during the first year of growing to enable it to become well established.
Health Benefits – According to Organic facts “ The health benefits of rhubarb include its ability to promote weight loss, improve digestion, stimulate bone growth, avoid neuronal damage, boost skin health, enhance metabolism, improve circulation, and protect against cardiovascular conditions”.
Eating – The stems are often stewed to make jam or relish. Jack and Brett like to eat them raw off the plant and we stewed some this morning with apple to have on our porridge. Another family favourite is rhubarb and apple crumble. Stephanie Alexander also has a wonderful recipe for a rhubarb and almond crumble tart and we also love an almond and rhubarb cake featured at Floating kitchen.
Australian permaculture magazine also featured a pink fizzy rhubarb champagne which sounds delicious.
TIP – When you cook rhubarb don’t put in a saucepan, cut it in cubes and put it in a ceramic dish in the oven with a little sugar and some orange juice and a knob of real butter and cover with lid or foil and bake for about 30/40 minutes on 160c. This way it will retain the nice red colour and will not be stringy
There are so many lovely recipe options.
Our lovely neighbour in Sydney shared this Rhubarb Relish recipe with us, it’s delicious!
- 1kg rhubarb
- 1kg onion
- 600ml white wine vinegar
- 1tbsp salt
- 300ml raw sugar
- 1tsp ground ginger
- 1tsp chili powder
- 1tsp ground caraway seeds
- 1tsp allspice
- 1tsp ground black pepper
Rinse and clean rhubarb. Cut in smaller pieces. Peel the onions and slice into wedges. Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook until jam like consistency.
Another recipe I recently acquired on Facebook from Katie
For every 1 kilo of chopped Rhubarb I add 1 cup of castor sugar, juice of one large lemon, a tablespoon of Cinnamon. Give it all a good stir coating all your chopped pieces.
Heat on the stove and the more you stir the more it will break down. It is ready for 25g jam setter if you wish, cool it down a little and place in warm sterilized jars. Lovely added to pancakes, ice creams, and yoghurts yogurts.
An alternative to stewing Rhubarb is to place wet Rhubarb in in a non-metal baking dish, cover it with foil bake and bake until it’s nearly soft. Remove foil, drizzle with honey and dot with butter cooking until soft and slightly browned.
Recently we enjoyed Rhubarb – Berry Crumbles with Ricotta Cream from the Women’s Weekly Vegetarian Recipe book. Rhubarb goes beautifully with berries and we’ve amended it to taste a little.
- 250 gms Rhubarb cut into 4cm lengths
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon Booyong honey
- 250 gms mixed frozen berries
- ¼ cup rolled oats
- ¼ cup quinoa flakes
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ¼ cup almond spread or butter
- ½ cup fresh ricotta
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
Preheat oven to 180 degrees
Combine rhubarb, juice and honey in saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook until rhubarb begins to soften. Add frozen berries and let sit for 2 minutes. Spoon mixture into four ¾ cup ovenproof dishes and place on tray.
Combine oats, quinoa and sugar in a small bowl. You can add some shredded coconut or flaked almonds if you wish. Rub in butter or almond spread until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Sprinkle evenly over fruit.
Bake in oven till top is crisp and golden.
Make Ricotta cream and serve. We added vanilla ice- cream as well and topped with orange zest – delicious!
Maggie Beer’s Rhubarb Crumble recipe is the perfect winter warmer dessert. Maggie uses rhubarb and oranges to create an indulgent dish.
Preheat fan forced oven to 180 C.
- Spread rhubarb in a baking dish, sprinkle with caster sugar or honey and orange juice and bake for 20 minutes or until tender, then set rhubarb and pan juices aside. Add a little extra orange juice if there are no juices left in the pan.
- Combine flour, cinnamon, sugar, orange zest and oats, then rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips.
- Place cooked rhubarb and pan juices in a buttered 1 litre ovenproof dish for four 250ml ramekins, sprinkle with crumble, then bake for 15 minutes (for ramekins) or 25 minutes (if baking in one dish) or until golden.
- Serve crumble in bowls with double cream passed separately.
Rhubarb and Ginger gin recipe
- Wash and chop up your ruby red rhubarb into 5cm pieces.
- Place 800 grams rhubarb, 200 grams sliced ginger (no need to peel) and 400 grams sugar into a preserving jar, top up with 1 litre gin and give it a good shake.
- Shake a couple of times a day for a few days until all the sugar has dissolved then place it in a dark cupboard for a few weeks to mature. It will be ready after 3-4 weeks, the gin will be a pretty pink colour and the rhubarb would have shrunk to about half of its original volume.
- Strain into clean, sterilized bottle through a cheese cloth and make sure you squeeze out all the liquid. You can use the rhubarb pieces in a desert, crumble or enjoy it warm with icecream.
Drink within three to four weeks to retain the lovely pink colour.
Rhubarb SAGO RECIPE (Source Unknown)
Rhubarb and sago cups are a refreshing treat that are also high in fibre. Sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb combine perfectly in this sophisticated superfood packed dessert.
- ½ cup seed tapioca (sago)
- 1 litre So Good Almond milk Unsweetened
- 2 tablespoons honey
- RHUBARB & BERRY COMPOTE
- 2 bunches rhubarb, washed & cut into 2cm pieces
- ½ cup water
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 250g punnet strawberries, hulled & halved
- Place tapioca and 1 ½ cup of So Good Almond milk Unsweetened in a large saucepan. Set aside to soak for 4 hours or overnight.
- Add remaining almond milk and honey into the large saucepan.
- Bring mixture to the boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until tapioca is transparent.
- Set aside for 15 minutes to cool.
- Combine rhubarb, water and honey in a saucepan. Bring mixture to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add strawberries and simmer a further 5 minutes or until fruit is soft and tender. Cool.
Divide rhubarb mixture evenly between 6 serving glasses. Top evenly with cooled tapioca.