The early crop of pink rhubarb with its shocking pink stems and wonderful sweet zingy taste is now available. Often thought to be a fruit, rhubarb is in fact a vegetable – the stem of a perennial plant. These pink stems are grown in an area known as the Yorkshire Triangle where in dark forcing sheds they grow rapidly searching for light. They are harvested by hand, by candlelight so as not to allow any photosynthesis to take place.
This pink variety is delicate and tender with yellowish leaves and an intriguing flavour – sour and acidic but balanced with sweetness it’s tart and refreshing all at once.
As a nutritious source of potassium, rhubarb helps keep blood pressure healthy and muscles functioning properly.
Delicious in both sweet and savoury dishes, it partners strong flavours well, such as orange zest, vanilla, ginger, honey and winter herbs such as thyme and rosemary. Packed with juice it needs little or no liquid. Add a squeeze of orange and bake at a low heat or simmer with a little sugar for a compote to serve with yogurt, use in crumble and serve with custard, in a fool, tarts and pies, comforting sponge puddings, chutneys, jam, in a sauce served with lamb, duck or salmon.
The field-grown variety of rhubarb is usually available around April, it is less tender but often has more flavour.