When our new friend Denyel asked what rhubarb was, we had a hard time answering coherently. That’s a good question, we thought. Having grown up here, we take rhubarb for granted. Every homestead has a couple of them in the front yard.
“Huge leaves,” I said, holding my arms wide. “Lois uses them to make birdbaths out of cement.”
She still looked lost.
“The stalks are bright red and look like celery…”Lois tried. “And it’s really sour.”
“But don’t eat the leaves!! Or feed them to your animals! They are poisonous!”, I added.
“They’re impossible to kill,” Lois offered. “Can’t kill that stuff with gasoline and hand-grenades. A lot like lilacs! ”
She wasn’t any more convinced. “Just try it!, ” we implored.
I whipped out my “Joy of Rhubarb” Cookbook (yes, it is a real cookbook) after our visit, and learned that it is, indeed a vegetable. (Though a NY court decided in 1947 that it was treated as a fruit, and therefore tariffed as one.)
Wikipedia also adds that it can be used as a laxative. Too bad we didn’t have that info for Denyel, though it probably wouldn’t have helped.
Even when I don’t have the time or energy to bake (or it’s too hot to light the oven), I freeze rhubarb that is chopped into 1/2 inch pieces, two or three cups per bag. Then they are ready to go if I want to bake in the fall or winter. This year I experimented with Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream Topping and jam, which was a hit at the farm store and Farmers’ Market.
Do you have a favorite rhubarb recipe that you would be willing to share? Paul doesn’t. He says it’s a secret family recipe from his Great great great Grandma, but I call BS; he got it at the Rhubarb Festival /CHUM Bake Sale.
Yes. There is a real, Annual Rhubarb Festival to our south in Duluth, MN. Denyel probably won’t be attending.