I love Rhubarb and its clean, tart flavour. And it’s great to see it making a return to popularity on restaurant dessert menus in various forms and as an accompaniement to duck, venison and other stronger flavoured types of meat.
We’ve always had rhubarb growing at home and it is very easy to keep if (like anything else) you look after it. Keep the soil moist but not water-logged, keep it in the sunshine by cutting any over-hanging branches and give it an odd helping of well-matured organic matter of the horse variety and the rhubarb plant will come back year after year.
mmmmm! Freshly pulled rhubarb!
In late Spring, after the frosts finally decide to go away, the first shoots will show. You can put an up-turned bucket over these and this will help to bring forth what is known as “forced rhubarb”. This is a great way to get a double crop. Pull the stalks clean from the base- do not cut them. After this first crop, leave the plant to its own devices and you will get another growth coming into the start of the summer.
Rhubarb is one of those plants that grows well in a big pot in a town or city garden if you follow those guidelines. But don’t put the leaves of rhubarb into your compost heap,as they are said to be poisonous and will have a seriously bad effect on your compost! Rhubarb plants are available to buy in most good garden centres & you can also buy Rhubarb stalks, ready for your cooking pot, in all good Veg shops.
Here is a very simple but super delicious recipe for an old-fashioned Rhubarb Crumble. I always put a splash of whiskey into it (and a little bit into the whipped cream too if you want!) and my mum always added porridge oats to the crumble topping to make it crunchier.
1kg fresh Rhubarb
200g granulated sugar
3 whole cloves or 1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 splash of your favourite Irish Whiskey
400g plain flour
100g flahavans porridge oats
100g brown sugar
3 tbls honey
Preheat your oven to 180C
Chop the rhubarb chunky
For the rhubarb mix, chop the rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces and then put it into into a heavy based pot with the sugar, cloves and whiskey, over a medium heat and bring it up, just before the boil. Then turn down the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until the rhubarb is soft but still chunky.
Don’t forget the splash of whiskey!
Meanwhile, rub the butter into the flour as you would when making pastry or bread. Add the oats, sugar and honey and mix well together.
Ahh… Porridge oats mixed through the pastry crumb
Pour the cooked rhubarb into a baking dish, sprinkle the crumble mix on top and pat it gently, with your hand, to tidy up the top.
Spread the crumble topping mix over the stewed rhubarb
Pop it in the oven for 18 – 20 minutes, until golden brown on top.
Serve with cream, custard or ice cream (or all three!) . Simple, tasty and delicious!