It only arrived in Europe in the 18th century, and the first people to integrate rhubarb into their culinary traditions were the English. Initially it tended to be used more as an ornamental plant because, in fact, some varieties produce some very attractive flowers.
Colonisation of the Caribbean then helped reduce the price of sugar, opening up new possibilities for eating the plant. It was at that point the English started going wild about “fool”. This is a sweet recipe comprising fresh fruit compote and a mixture of cream and yoghurt. An old-fashioned dessert that combines the sweetness of the cream with the acidity of the rhubarb. That same combination turns up in one of English cuisine’s classic partnerships: rhubarb and custard, as found in the sweets of the same name.
A number of varieties are available today, and each one has its own particular character. The green ones are more acidic, whereas the red ones are sweeter.
One question remains: is it cooked like a vegetable, or like a fruit?
In 1947, rhubarb was officially classified as a fruit, but a number of botanical textbooks also treat it as a vegetable.
In fact, although it naturally remains best known for its culinary qualities in desserts, we shall see that it acquits itself rather well in savoury recipes, with a capacity to surprise! How about mackerel fillets with rhubarb chutney? Or rhubarb and coconut milk curry?
When choosing rhubarb to cook, look carefully at the stalks. They must be firm and unmarked. The stem must be quite green with pink edges.
If you grow it yourself, make sure you pick it regularly. Rhubarb that is cut too late will become more stringy.
Rhubarb growers can be found all over France, but particularly in Alsace and Picardy. The peak season, meanwhile, runs from April to June.
When cooking rhubarb, do take care: not all of it can be eaten!
Only the stalks are edible; the leaves are not. In some regions, however, they are still used to wrap cheeses and butter. If the stalks are too fibrous you can peel off the skin.
You also have the option to eat it raw or cooked. Cooked rhubarb is often combined with products that have a naturally rounded, sweet flavour that marries perfectly with the fresh acidity of the rhubarb: apple, cinnamon, honey, banana, or even ginger peel.
In a savoury dish, it can accompany meat or fish. It goes perfectly in stuffings for poultry, or in salads.
If you want to store it, it can be dried or frozen equally well.
A delight to the tastebuds and a multitude of benefits to the body! In addition to its great eating qualities, rhubarb is a rich source of fibre. Packed with Vitamin C, it improves vitality and combats anaemia. It is also valuable to anyone with a liver condition because of its antiseptic action.
With its low calorie count, it’s simply asking to be added! However, because of its acidity, we tend to cook it with a lot of sugar. Try not to be too heavy-handed!
So, have we convinced you? Then come along and look at the recipes our chefs have created to melt your heart!
A number of our Relais Dessert members have showcased rhubarb in combination with a range of ingredients. Vianney Bellanger, with his Tarte Mathilde, introduces us to a delicious alliance between rhubarb, strawberry and basil.
After passing through the kitchens of Alain Ducasse, the laboratories of Ladurée, without forgetting the Ritz, Claire Heitlzer finally opens her workshop and her online shop at the end of October! Under the name «Claire & Producteurs», this concept will defend the values dear to the Alsatian leader: eco-responsibility and gluttony.
Jeffrey Cagnes will open the doors of his own shop on 21 September in Paris (17'). The opportunity to discover the universe and the creativity of the one who has made his ranges in the prestigious Maison Stohrer, the oldest pastry shop in Paris!
The Omnivore Fall Culinary Festival will take place from 11 to 13 September at the Parc Floral in Paris and will feature pastry. You will meet among others Jade and Jacques Génin, Nina Métayer, Michaël Bartocetti, Christophe Michalak or François Josse!
La Maison Pierre Hermé recrute deux chocolatiers en CDI au sein de son établissement situé à Wittenheim en Alsace. Les postes sont à pourvoir immédiatement. Vos candidatures à l’adresse suivante : firstname.lastname@example.org
Le Chardon Bleu – Olivier Buisson – recrute un btm pâtissier et une mention complémentaire en pâtisserie. Toutes les informations ici.