This plant is considered a traditional culinary ingredient in English cuisine, and it was the English gardeners who were the first to cultivate it in Europe. And in the USA it is called "the plant for pies". Guess who we are talking about? Of course, about rhubarb! The juicy stalks of this plant make excellent pies, crumbles, jams, jellies, mousses, puddings and other desserts, as well as soups, sauces and snacks. But this is not the whole list of tasty and healthy dishes that can be prepared from rhubarb. After all, there are also recipes for compotes, kvass, cider, beer and even rhubarb wine!
Rhubarb conquered Europe at the end of the Middle Ages: in those days in France it cost five times more than saffron, and in England it cost three times more than opium. Today prices for it have fallen, but the love of Europeans for it has not faded away.
But in Russia this plant is not very popular today, although in times far from us, in the 17-18 centuries, rhubarb from our state was exported. It was a state monopoly. And rhubarb was equated, as we would now say, with strategic products so much that in 1704 Peter I issued a special decree, according to which private trade in rhubarb was prohibited on pain of death. And with the abolition of such strict measures in 1789, Catherine the Great issued a decree on artificial breeding of rhubarb and a reward for those who would take up this rewarding work. Unfortunately, these days rhubarb can be found in our gardens quite rarely, although it is unpretentious in nature and healthy and tasty in nature.
This vegetable has about thirty species in its genus, which should not be confused, since one is treated with rhubarb, another is eaten, and the third is used to decorate gardens. At the same time, in the medicinal variety, the root is valued, and in the culinary one, only the stem.
Rhubarb is 95% water, so there are very few calories, which is very important in the modern world of cooking. Its petioles are rich in vitamin C and various minerals, and also contain malic, citric and oxalic acids. And this is where the problem lies - to extinguish the acid of rhubarb requires a lot of sugar, which significantly increases the calorie content of rhubarb dishes. The oxalic acid content of rhubarb increases as the plant grows, so it is better to eat it carefully from the end of June, especially if you have certain acidity problems.
At the beginning of the season, there is no great need to peel the petioles from the peel before use, it is enough just to rinse and cut them into pieces, especially since this peel contains various vitamins, antioxidants and useful enzymes. In the second half of the summer season, it is better to rid the petioles of the peel, and to blanch the finished pieces a little.
In almost all culinary recipes, it is recommended to heat rhubarb. After very little boiling in water, or even better - steamed, the petioles get rid of excess acid and soften slightly, which significantly affects the final taste of the prepared dish. Do not forget that when heat treatment of the petioles, you cannot use metal dishes without a protective coating, since oxalic acid will react with the metal, and rhubarb will lose its wonderful reddish color.
Rhubarb in desserts goes well with strawberries, apples, raspberries or cherries. The original sauces from this plant go well with seafood, fish and poultry.
In traditional English recipes from rhubarb, ginger and cloves are almost always accompanied with it, and in American recipes, cinnamon is its constant companion.
In our Culinary section you can find recipes for various rhubarb dishes: traditional English rhubarb crumble, rhubarb mousse, cold sweet soup with rhubarb and strawberries, semolina dessert with strawberry and rhubarb sauce, rhubarb curd pie and strawberries, Cold mint rhubarb and kiwi soup in watermelon, Roll with rhubarb and raisins, Strawberry and rhubarb jam with lemon juice and ginger, Rhubarb pudding, Pie with rhubarb and nuts, and other delicious and easy-to-prepare meals.
Rhubarb is one of those vegetables that are among the first to delight us with their harvest, already in May its young petioles are the most juicy and tasty.And there is no need to be afraid of excessive acid in its taste, especially since today less sour varieties have appeared on sale, for example, Red Valentine, bright red stems of which have a persistent berry aroma, for which this variety is also called strawberry or raspberry rhubarb. Find a place on your plot for this wonderful plant, and rhubarb will become a good friend to you, generously giving your family a healthy and tasty harvest.