simply rhubarb

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It’s spring – it’s rhubarb season!
Rhubarb is easy to process & a very springlike delight as compote, in desserts, in cakes… & hurry up: rhubarb will vanish end of June (aka end of harvesting!).

Last week I spotted rhubarb for the 1st time in my trusted foodstore & started immediately making plans for rhubarb desserts – yes: for me it’s mostly dessert! (Baking some rhubarb cake is postponed for the moment…) The main ingredient in a rhubarb dessert is rhubarb compote – so we’re now dealing with the production of rhubarb compote.


The very 1st task is now: how to prepare rhubarb for cooking…

We start with cutting off the ends of the stems: the upper end with the leaves vanishes as well as the lower white end which tends to be rather firm (cut off generously!). Fine: now there is the peeling… do we really need peeling?


  • There is red rhubarb with stems about 1 – 2 cm in diameter. You’ll need not peel them because the outer rhubarb fibres are soft & don’t mess with the compote.
    The compote of red rhubarb is red.
  • There is rather green rhubarb with stems about 3 – 4 cm (or even 5 – 6 cm) in diameter. You’ll definitely have to peel the stems because the outer fibers are rather firm & will ruin the compote. You do it by starting at one end with a knife loosening the outer fibers & then just pull the fibers off – it’s somewhat messy & slimy.
    The compote of green rhubarb looks unhappily yellowish-greenish.
  • …in between both types (reddish/greenish rhubarb stems of about 2 – 4 cm):
    If 90% of your rhubarb is red the rest won’t really do any harm (no need of peeling!).
    If 90% of your rhubarb is green it’s the same – except of the required peeling.

…and our insight:
We’ll only buy delicate red rhubarb!

For the record:
There is the issue of oxalic acid (pls. do not hesitate to search Wikipedia for details!). Rhubarb as well as lots of other vegetables contains oxalic acid concentrated in the leaves (which we cut off) & in the outer fibres of the stems. As a rule: the greener & the thicker the stem the more oxalic acid concentrates in the outer fibers. (I learnt this from my Internet surfing!)
So it’s no point to skip peeling delicate red rhubarb.

After having mastered the rhubarb stems we cut the stem into pieces of about 0.5 – 1 cm. Cover the bottom of a pot with some water (about 1 cm). Add the rhubarb & some sugar & some vanilla & let it boil…



 The rhubarb will disintegrate soon – you can control how much!


simply rhubarb

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4-6

simply rhubarb

It's spring - it's rhubarb season! Rhubarb is easy to process & a very springlike delight as compote, in desserts, in cakes... & hurry up: rhubarb will vanish end of June (aka end of harvesting!). This recipe presents the easy way to produce rhubarb compote for further use in desserts... or just for enjoying straight rhubarb.


  • 500 gr rhubarb (more or less...)
  • 2-4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 packets vanilla sugar OR 1 vanilla bean & 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon potato starch - optional
  • 3 tablespoons cold water - optional

How to...

  1. Rinse the rhubarb thoroughly - there is always a lot of soil.
  2. Cut off the upper & the lower ends of the rhubarb stems.
  3. No peeling required: only use delicate red rhubarb stems.
  4. Cut the rhubarb stems into pieces of 0.5 - 1 cm.
  5. Fill about 1 cm water in a pot.
  6. Add the rhubarb & the sugar.
  7. When using a vanilla bean cut in length & scrape out the vanilla seeds. Add vanilla seeds & additional sugar OR when using vanilla sugar just add the vanilla sugar.
  8. Let it boil & stir at times.
  9. After about 10 min the rhubarb compote is ready.
  10. Optional: whisk potato starch & cold water until dissolved & add to the boiling rhubarb. Stir until dissolved in the rhubarb.
  11. Let it cool & store it afterwards in the fridge.


Feel free to add as much sugar as you like. I think 2 tablespoons together with vanilla sugar are the minimum.

If you cook the rhubarb for about 10 min the rhubarb pieces will still exist - somehow. Feel free to add some more cooking time if you like it smoother.

If you plan to use the rhubarb compote as an ingredient for a dessert, e. g. a trifle, it's wise to thicken the rhubarb compote slightly: so add the potato starch.

You can store the rhubarb compote for at least 1 week in the fridge - maybe even longer. (I don't remember that it ever lasted so long...)


What to do with rhubarb compote?

  • You can simply enjoy it w/o any more fussing around.
  • You can add some spoonfuls of rhubarb compote to half a sliced banana, add some yoghurt, add some cereals for your breakfast or afternoon snack.
  • You can start with some custard & add some spoonfuls of rhubarb compote – a rather plain dessert.
  • You can create a somewhat more sophisticated dessert like a special rhubarb trifle.

I’d like to mention something concerning the consistency: Although we only start with a minimum of water in the pot the rhubarb compote will be rather fluid… If you like the rhubarb liquid more syrup-like you can add some potato starch (see recipe). Especially when using rhubarb compote for desserts it’s better to work with some less watery compote!

For the record:
Whenever I think that some liquid has to be thickened slightly – if sweet, if savory – I add some potato starch dissolved in water. Potato starch doesn’t add any aroma, is easy to use & easy to dose.


The businesswoman with too many office hours thinks

Rhubarb? Are you sure? It seems rather easy to cook, but is it “exotic”? It’s more classic country style… Nevertheless I think it’s worth a try – let’s wait for the announced “sophisticated dessert” (rhubarb trifle).

However, I think it’s a nice variety for my breakfast fruit bowl.





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