Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Luscious rhubarb

Its rhubarb season and I am enjoying making stewed rhubarb with apple, or pears, to have with my home made muesli for breakfast or as a desert with homemade yogurt, in a rhubarb and apple pie or a crumble. I feel that its lovely rich ruby colour makes such a festive dish to serve to friends. Its so autumnal to me even though its not an autumn fruit.

Rhubarb originally came from Asia and its a vegetable, not a fruit and its been a medicine for over 5000 years and a very tart and astringent one when unsweetened, so it wasn't always a lovely desert dish. Rhubarb only became popular as food with the introduction of sugar to Europe in the 17th century. Some clever woman pottering in her kitchen or still room probably decided to sweeten a child's rhubarb medicine posset with sugar and produced a marriage made in heaven.

Stewed rhubarb is such a beautiful colour, a pink ruby colour, beautiful and shiny and so delicious to eat. Nigella nearly swoons over it in her How to Cook and she has a great recipe for slow baked rhubarb.

Home stewed fruit is so simple to prepare, my work colleagues are amazed that I make my own for my work breakfast, they think its easier to buy those little plastic pots of fruit and its one of the reasons that I get labeled as 'healthy' - but if I make it myself I have control over the ingredients, bought stewed fruit is always too sweet for my taste and I'm saving resources and money.

In fact I have some rhubarb and apples bubbling on the stove as I write and it prompted this post. It took me all of 10 minutes to get it there. I peeled, cored and cut up three granny smith apples, chopped a bunch of rhubarb into small pieces, grated about an inch of fresh ginger, put all of this into a pot and then grated in some nutmeg, added a cinnamon stick, a couple of cloves and three cardomon pods and half a cup of water. I then let it come to a gentle simmer and forget about it for about 15 minutes or until the fruit is soft. I will let it cool a bit and then add a couple of large tablespoons of honey, you could use sugar, I once used palm sugar as that's all there was in the pantry and it worked really well, gave a distinctly Asian flavour to such an English dish and sometimes I add raisins to bring their sweetness into the mix. I will cool it well, pack it up into portions and take some to work and pop the rest in the freezer for 'ron.

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