All that rhubarb.....

The garden part of this blog doesn't get much of a look in, which probably reflects the time that is spent on it relative to everything else I write about. One thing with living in a fairly rural environment is the glut: at this time of year, everyone I see I mentally size up: are they likely to have rhubarb? - in which case any offer of some of mine is only going to meet with a hollow laugh (it's a good year for rhubarb, this year), or grow only flowers, in which case there will be enthusiastic agreement to take some of it off my hands.

Our rhubarb patch, after a couple of sulky years when it protested that it did not appreciate the wind swept climes of our fruit garden, has now decided that wind is for wimps, and it flourisheth even more than the green bay tree (and I have plenty of that on offer too, if anyone's interested).

Last year I made rhubarb chutney - excellent, but I'm not sure I can face the thought of the reek of vinegar taking over the house for days - so this year I was looking for other things. For fellow rhubarb glut sufferers out there, here is an excellent recipe for rhubarb ice cream. The children had one taste and then refused to touch it, but we thought it was delicious. The recipe comes from The Ice Cream Book, by Joanna Farrow and Sara Lewis, Hermes House, 2007.

Rhubarb and Ginger Ice Cream
5 pieces of stem ginger, finely chopped
1lb trimmed rhubarb, sliced
4 oz caster sugar
2 tbspn water
5 oz mascarpone
1/4 pint whipping cream

1. Put the rhubarb, water and sugar in a pan, cover and simmer for 5 minutes until the rhubarb is just tender. I hadn't thought this through when I picked the rhubarb, and so had some sticks that were a tad, shall we say, resistant. I simmered it for much longer than 5 minutes and the end result was fine, but when I do this again, shall choose sticks of the same degree of ripeness.

2. Blend or food processor the rhubarb until smooth. Chill (if you have time - of course I was doing this in a rush near bed time and so didn't.)

3. Mix the mascarpone, cream and ginger with the rhubarb puree. The recipe doesn't say whether or not you should actually whip the whipping cream. I had forgotten to buy cream, so only had double, and not quite enough. I made up the difference with mascarpone, and was too tired to whip the cream, so didn't. I think if you did it would improve the texture, but it was fine without.

4. Freeze for 6 hours or so, beating once or twice to break up the ice crystals. Of course, as I did this just before bed, the chances of my doing any beating of the mixture were zero. I have to say the result was still good, though the texture would have been better if I'd stirred myself from bed in the still watches and beaten it.

The end result, I have to say, was jolly good. The texture could maybe do with some work, but the taste was fine, and it used up some rhubarb, which was the aim of the exercise. If I am feeling very noble, I may make some rhubarb sorbet, and shall report back on that.


Oh, I wish I had your rhubarb glut this year. Where I live (Pacific Northwest USA), I believe that my state (Washington) produces the most rhubarb in the nation, but such is not the case this year. My plants, longstanding producers, are cross, I think, due to too much shading by a volunteer cotoneaster. Their usual bumper crop has been reduced to a few slender strands. Grr! No rhubarb crisp, strawberry-rhubarb pie, or rhubarb coffee cake....let alone chutney or ice cream...
Jane Badger said…
Cotoneasters can be thugs. Rhubarb crisp sounds intriguing! Do you have a recipe?
Ooh, yum. I have just been up to the top of the garden to put the hens to bed. The rhubarb is taking over the garden again. I was contemplating rhubarb and ginger jelly, but ice cream sounds heavenly.
It seems I try a different rhubarb crisp recipe every year and never recall which one I used before (guess it sometimes depends on whether I mixed it with strawberries, and often I've opted to make coffeecake instead of crisp in recent years) but I guess one can't go wrong with a recipe from "The Joy of Rhubarb" (I kid you not--this is a real book, and it is right here next to me). It has 9 different crisp recipes, most involving mixing the rhubarb with other fruits. The solely-rhubarb recipe is as follows, condensed here:
Mix in large bowl--4 cups rhubarb (about 1 pound) cut into 3/4 inch pieces; 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour/ 1 tsp cinnamon. Drizzle with 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Separately, mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal, and 1/2 cup melted cooled butter until crumbly (hmm--I would NOT melt the butter, and I would whirl it all together in a food processor instead). Sprinkle over filling. Bake 35-45 minutes in oven at 375 degrees.

If I locate one I have buried that is actually better than this one, I will post that too. (And don't forget to top with vanilla ice cream :)
Jane Badger said…
Well, you have to love a book called The Joy of Rhubarb. I can't even get rid of mine on the produce table a friend's having when she opens her garden tomorrow!

I think the rhubarb crisp is what we'd call a crumble, though crumble topping has more flour in proportion to sugar, and traditionally not oats, though I always put them in.

What is packed brown sugar? Does that just mean you squish it down in the cup?
Jane Badger said…
Rachael, I loved your blog! Rhubarb and ginger jelly also sounds excellent. I think I'm going to have to crack and do more rhubarb chutney.
Yes, as opposed to granulated sugar, the brown sugar would be smooshed into the cup.

Crisps, crumbles, buckles, grunts, slumps...I love the names people have come up with for all the ways to make a delectable sweet and crunchy dish out of fruit!

The various recipes I have tried call for varying proportions of butter to flour. The best crumb topping recipe I've got comes from a berry cookbook and employs cardamom. I'll dig that out soon.
Right. This not the cardamom recipe I mentioned, but by the pink splatters on the pages of the cookbook, I know this is the most-used rhubarb crisp recipe I have. It is from "Simply Classic," a cookbook produced by a Seattle-based group of authors. It calls for berries as well.

Rhubarberry Crisp
Filling: 3 cups fresh rhubarb cut into 1-inch pieces; 1 1/2 cups raspberries or strawberries; 3/4 cup sugar; 3 Tablespoons flour.
Topping: 1 cup flour; 1/2 cup packed brown sugar; 1 tsp baking powder; 1 tsp salt; 6 Tablespoons butter, softened; 1/3 cup chopped nuts (optional).

Prehat oven to 350.
For filling: butter a 9-inch-square baking dish. Put rhubarb in pan, top with berries. (If using frozen berries, do not thaw first.) Sprinkle fruit with sugar and flour.
For topping: in small bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add butter. Mix with fingertips til mixture resembles coarse crumbs (or use food processor). Add nuts if using. Sprinkle over filling.
3. Bake til fruit is soft and bubbly and topping is browned, 35-40 minutes.

Slightly different than the other, but I know it is absolutely marvelous.
Val said…
That ice cream recipe sounds lovely and our rhubarb is just starting to emerge...I used to live by a couple who made the most interesting Rhubarb wine ...bit like vodka if you have any left
Ooh, thank you Jane! It's a work in progress - I had a blog all about my marathon running mission before ( but decided I needed somewhere for my ramblings.
Rachael said…
Oh and rhubarb grunt - there's a recipe for it in a Nigella book. I'll have a rootle about for it and stick it up on my blog. How could you resist a rhubarb grunt? It sounds so fatly delicious.
Great minds think alike. I hope posting a link here will work--The New York Times printed a recipe and article today all about rhubarb crisp! Here's the link:

A winery near me makes rhubarb wine--it's wonderful--sweet and tart at the same time. And "rhubarb grunt" -- heck, even if you don't eat it, it's just great to say it. It sounds like the name of a nasty character in a book.
Jane Badger said…
Rhubarb grunt is an amazing name. I like slumps too. The next sinking cake I do will be a slump, because of course I meant to do it like that.

Going to try the first rhubarb crisp recipe at the weekend.

I invaded the triffid patch and removed the flowers yesterday. I did have a sneaking thought about whether you could use the rhubarb flowers like elderflower. Hmmm. I wonder if they're poisonous?
Val said…
There's more recipes here ...

personally I don't think I'd risk the flowers if I were you ...I rather like reading your blog!
In New England, the older folks call rhubarb "pie plant" and that first rhubarb pie of the season is a very welcome sign of spring.

I love just a plain, somewhat tart rhubarb pie with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top, and I'm slightly suspicious of people who don't think this is one of life's finest little pleasures.
Jane Badger said…
All right Val, I won't try the flowers!

Andrea, I love the idea of the pie plant. I think it is our first fruit in the UK too, so pie plant would be a good name here too.
Chris said…
Man, I'd love to make use of that recipe! Sadly I don't seem to have much luck with rhubarb at my place! The strawberries have flourished and the broccoli did really well, but not the rhubarb!

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