Last year, I was lucky enough to inherit part of divided rhubarb patch that one of my neighbors was giving away. I wasn’t very familiar with the plant, so after transplanting it into my garden, I did a little research.
Apparently, as with so many things, we have Benjamin Franklin to thank. He is credited with importing the first rhubarb seeds to America in the late 1700s. And we are fortunate to have so much of it here in the Northeast; it doesn’t grow well, if at all, in the hotter parts of the country. Huzzah for New England!
Once I knew a little more about rhubarb, its origins and how to grow it, I started to wonder how I would handle the bounty of my harvest, as, before planting my patch, I hadn’t even eaten much rhubarb, let alone cooked with it. I quickly discovered that there’s nearly no end to what you can make with rhubarb.
Here are some of my favorite ways to prepare it, beyond the ubiquitous strawberry-rhubarb pie:
Rhubarb for breakfast
- Rhubarb oatmeal — Ditch the boring raisins and add some sweet-tart zing to your morning oatmeal.
- Rhubarb johnnycake — This rich cake could easily do double duty as both breakfast and dessert.
Rhubarb for refreshment
- Rhubarb syrup — Create a rhubarb simple syrup to mix with club soda for a refreshing cooler or to add to an exotic cocktail.
- Rhubarb vodka — Infusing vodka is simple, and infusing it with rhubarb turns it a lovely pink color to boot.
Rhubarb paired sweetly (and classically) with strawberries
- Roasted Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam –—Perhaps the easiest jam you’ll ever make — it takes a mere 30 minutes!
- Strawberry-Rhubarb Chutney — The sweet-tart pairing of strawberries and rhubarb is a great summertime complement to roast chicken or pork.
- Strawberry-Rhubarb Drop Scones — More substantial than cake or a muffin, these gorgeous scones are perfect with an afternoon cup of tea.Still not satisfied? Try the Rhubarb Compendium, which has recipes for using rhubarb in everything from baked goods to fish entrees — and even include a recipe for Klingon rhubarb bread, for all you Star Trek fans.
Apparently everyone loves rhubarb.
Photos by Julianne Puckett
In the Summer 2013 edition of Vermont Life, we feature blueberries in our Cooking in Season department. When you try our recipes, Streuseled Blueberry-Mascarpone French Toast or Grilled Quail With Blueberries Two Ways, try making them with blueberries you picked yourself. Here are just some of the many farms where you can pick the blue jewels of summer.
PYO Blueberries by County
The Last Resort, Bristol
The Apple Barn and Country Bake Shop, Bennington
Adams Berry Farm, Burlington
Covered Bridge Berry Patch, Underhill
Norris Berry Farm, Hinesburg
Owls Head Farm, Richmond
Paul Mazzas Fruit and Vegetable Stand, Colchester and Essex
Sam Mazza Farm Market, Colchester
Willow Hill Farm, Milton
Liebig Berries, Pawlet
Dutton Farm Stand, Newfane
Dwight Miller and Son Orchards, East Dummerston
Green Mountain Orchards, Putney
Harlows Sugar House, Putney
Scott Farm, Dummerston
The Boyd Family, Wilmington
Whetstone Ledges Farm, Marlboro
This is a sample menu from San Sai in Burlington. Please check with the restaurant for the most up-to-date menus.