Outdoor grown, tiny stemmed and delicate – Worthing Rhubarb is just coming through and it’s a perfect time to use it.
Ye olde farmers will tell you that rhubarb is actually a vegetable which is impersonating a fruit (in America they legally defined it as a fruit in 1947, in case you’re interested). Fruit or veg, you have carte blanche to do with it as you will because it works equally well with rich savoury as well as sweet bases.
Our Worthing Rhubarb isn’t forced and we are lucky to have it this early. At this point in the season, the flavour is more pronounced than forced rhubarb, which is artificially brought on in February…outdoor rhubarb doesn’t usually see the light of day til around April.
So make the most of it and hope that we don’t have snow any time soon.
Treat it Gently
First rule of new rhubarb – don’t have the oven too hot or over-stir. It will still taste good but quickly loses its shape.
Older rhubarb will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge – but as we deliver frequently from the farm, there is no need to hang on to it! Fresh rhubarb is so much nicer and new stalks will go limp and stringy much more quickly.
Rhubarb freezes well, once it’s cooked and as you know is perfect for preserving.
Bottled rhubarb is a brilliant and traditional alternative to freezing and feels very virtuous having rows of pink jars lined up (they will keep in the dark for up to a year). Here is the Guardian’s guide to bottling.
How to use
As a rule of thumb, rhubarb partners well with ginger, orange and in any combination of jams, crumbles and stewed fruit (with cream or custard).
For meat, as a sauce it works well with pork, goose or oily fish such as mackerel – although, Muir likes a liberal rhubarb sauce with thyme roasted potatoes which are heavily peppered to accompany a good nut roast. Works well with gooseberries too.
Try these delicious recipes below or for more inspiration here are 10 ways to use from the Guardian – the Okra and Rhubarb Sweet and Sour soup looks guaranteed to wake up the tastebuds…we will let you know once we’ve tried it.
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall always has some delicious combinations up his chef sleeves and combining with black pudding is masterly:
Pic from Express
Baked, peppered rhubarb with black pudding
Tart, juice-soaked, lightly peppery rhubarb is a very pleasing foil to the rich, savoury denseness of black pudding. This is also the way to prepare rhubarb to serve alongside the aforementioned oily fish, and it works well, instead of apple sauce, on the side with roast pork or duck. Serves four as a starter.
- 300g rhubarb
- 25g golden caster or granulated sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 250g black pudding, cut into thick chunky slices
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Trim the rhubarb and cut into 5cm lengths. Put in an oven dish, scatter over the sugar and a generous grinding of black pepper and toss lightly together. Cover the dish with foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir the rhubarb lightly in its juices, without squashing it too much, and leave to cool.
When you’re ready to serve, heat some olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the black pudding for about five minutes, until it starts to get nice and crisp on the outside. At the same time, in a small separate pan, warm through the rhubarb. Serve the chunks of hot black pudding with a spoonful of the juicy rhubarb and some bread for wiping the plates.
Rhubarb trifle with rum soaked parkin crumbs
This is based on Great British Chef, James Mackenzie’s Yorkshire recipe – Parkin is a kind of sticky gingerbread. It’s a delightfully pretty trifle with proper British winter flavour.
BUT, make this a Sussex version with beautiful Worthing rhubarb and instead of making Parkin try the deliciously moreish crumbled Horsham Gingerbread (which is also gluten free).
- 20 stalks of rhubarb, cut into 2 inch pieces
- caster sugar
- grenadine syrup
- 3 gelatine leaves or vegetarian alternative.
- 250ml of milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 65g of caster sugar
- 1/2 vanilla pod, split
- 1 knob of fresh ginger
- 200g of golden syrup
- 200g of butter
- 50g of black treacle
- 200g of dark brown sugar, soft
- 200g of self-raising flour
- 150g of oats
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 2 tsp ground mixed spice
- 500ml of double cream
- 1/2 vanilla pod, split
- almonds, toasted
- icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark .
To make the parkin, heat the golden syrup, butter, treacle and sugar in a large saucepan. Add the flour, oats, eggs and mi.
Pour into a greaseproof paper-lined baking tray and cook for 10–12 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tray. Increase the oven temperature to 180°C/gas mark .
Place the rhubarb in a deep baking tray and pour over approximately 100ml of water. Sprinkle with caster sugar, depending on how sweet you want it, then pour 4–6 dashes of grenadine over and cover with tin foil. Bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes, until just tender so it hold the shape.
Remove the tray from the oven and set aside to cool, leaving the rhubarb in the poaching liquor. Once the rhubarb has cooled, strain the poaching liquid into a saucepan, bring to a gentle boil and reduce to a syrup consistency.
Remove from the heat, pour out approximately 50ml to finish the trifle and stir the gelatine into the remaining liquid. Set aside at room temperature to cool.
To make the custard, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, add the flour and whisk until combined. Bring the milk to the boil with the vanilla and ginger, then strain into the egg mix, whisking continuously.
Return the custard to the pan and cook over a moderate heat for approximately 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the cooked custard mix into a bowl and cover with cling film to prevent a skin forming. Leave to cool in the fridge.
Whip the double cream with 50g of icing sugar and the vanilla seeds until soft peaks form. Gently fold 1/3 of the whipped cream through the custard and store in the fridge until required.
To make the trifles, crumble some parkin into the bottom of each glass and pour in enough rum to generously soak the cake. Add a couple of pieces of rhubarb, followed by enough of the reduced liquor with gelatine and set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Spoon in the custard, then spoon or pipe some of the cream on top. Finish with the rhubarb syrup, toasted almonds and a dusting of icing sugar.