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…
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.