Rhubarb season generally runs from mid-spring through summer. In our region, its prime time is May. Not only is it delicious with its acidic tang, rhubarb is also great for ornamental purposes with its massive, glorious leaves. It’s perfect in a potager-type garden, front yard garden or in a street boulevard. Technically a vegetable but widely regarded as a fruit, rhubarb (or botanically speaking, Rheum rhabarbarum) is a species of plant in the family Polygonaceae; it’s related to sorrel, another perennial edible treasure. If you’re contemplating growing some, it has few pests to speak of, and it’s super low maintenance. Rhubarb will thrive in the sun, and can grow in a container, provided it is big enough.
Before it was regarded as a culinary ingredient, rhubarb was originally cultivated for it’s root, important in Chinese medicine since about 2700 BC. Remember, the leaves contain toxic amounts of oxalic acid, so when harvesting, compost the leaves! In Europe in the 17th and 18th century, when consuming rhubarb as food was relatively new, this was not common knowledge (unfortunately).
Baked Rhubarb Compote
Rhubarb compote is incredibly versatile: Put a dollop on yogurt and granola in the morning, eat it with ice cream, wrap it in galette dough, or pair it with a fish. Make a fruit wine, or pickle it if you’re feeling adventurous. We love it when its season merges with strawberry and raspberry season!
2 pounds (6 cups) rhubarb (or enough to fill a glass baking dish)
1 Valencia orange
1-cup local honey
A teensy bit of water to barely line the bottom of the glass pan
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut rhubarb into 1″ pieces.
- Barely cover the bottom of the glass baking dish with water.
- Grate some orange zest, and squeeze the juice into the glass baking dish.
- Add rhubarb, zest, and drizzle honey; mix until rhubarb is coated in honey and juice.
- Bake for 20-30 mins, or until the rhubarb is soft. Serve warm or keep in fridge for later!