I picked my first bunch of rhubarb yesterday.  Oh, the joys of the first harvest and the hope that it gives of more to come.  I have to admit I am in love with rhubarb, not just for culinary purposes, but I am in love with the plant itself.  How can you not love a plant that is as old as dirt itself, that has leaves wider than my whole body, and glorious thick stained red stalks shooting up from the ground?  I love this plant!  It is the first to poke through the ground in the spring; it gives me hope that winter WILL (one day) end!!!  I needed rhubarb this Spring; Winter is still threatening, snowing in the canyons and higher elevations.  I kind of stick out my tongue at Old Man Winter as I slice those thick tangy stalks off the plant!

Rhubarb is a very ancient member of the buckwheat family and is a perennial, which means plant it once and it comes back year after year.  It has been documented in ancient China for medicinal uses as far back as 2700 BC.  It was used to treat fevers, plague, and other various illnesses.  It arrived in America somewhere between 1790-1800.  It is great for weight loss and packed with Vitamin C, great for immunity, and Vitamin K, which you need for blood clotting.  The only down side to the plant is that the leaves contain high levels of oxalic acid which can stop your breathing if eaten in quantity.  (Quite the downside!!!)  I have taught my kids to not touch the leaves, and as soon as I harvest, I cut the leaves from the stalks and throw them away.  Problem solved!

This is the party animal of the sweet and sour "rock your taste buds" world!!!  When paired with something just a little bit sweet, the flavors seem to explode!  Rhubarb is delicious baked in crisps, pies, crumbles, paired with sweeter fruits in jams and jellies, and makes great compotes.  I am freezing some to make strawberry rhubarb jam later in the season, as strawberries are not on yet.  Today, I made a compote with it.  It is so simple and easy to make, it takes about 20 minutes and you are left with something super tasty to top ice cream or yogurt...or whatever else you come up with.  ENJOY!!!

Rhubarb-Vanilla-Orange Compote
Backyard Farmgals

1 lb. Rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 orange, zested and juiced
1/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean

In a large pan, combine rhubarb, orange juice and zest, sugar, and whole vanilla bean.  Turn heat to medium-low.  Allow the compote to cook until just tender, stirring occasionally.  Remove vanilla bean, split lengthwise, scrape the seeds and add to the compote, throw away pod.

Allow to cool (or if you are impatient, serve it warm over ice cream...YUM) and serve with yogurt and granola, ice cream, or whatever your heart desires.  Sit back and enjoy spring!!!


Popular posts from this blog

Raspberry Cream Crumble Pie...

Keeping Bees Through the Winter...

Chicken Tractor...