The poisonous leaves of the rhubarb plant can cause a variety of symptoms including stomach pain, nausea, and breathing difficulty. The bright red stalk of the rhubarb plant, on the other hand, is totally edible and can cause delight, a sense of wellness, and sometimes (in extreme cases) euphoria.
When I was about seven years old, my best friend Joshua lived right down the street from me. We played together just about every day during the summer. Back in those days, the afternoon carried clear into evening without notice. Sometimes that meant we didn’t notice that we hadn’t eaten all day. Lucky for us, his mother was always close by with a snack ready and waiting. It was she who first introduced me to the word (and taste of) Rhubarb. She grew tons of it in her garden, and cooked with it too. Her greatest achievement, in my humble adolescent opinion, was her strawberry-rhubarb jam. To this day, her jam sets a standard against which all other jams are measured.
It wasn’t until much later that I realized rhubarb wasn’t inherently sweet. The discovery was something of a letdown. I had spent many years thinking the stuff was tangy and sweet. For those who don’t already know, rhubarb is not sweet. It is most certainly tangy, tart even, but sweet it is not. That said, a sweetener will brighten the flavor of cooked rhubarb the same way a pinch of salt will brighten a raw slice of tomato. This is why the internet offers up sweet dessert rhubarb recipes over savory recipes ten to one.
Now, ordinarily I would take this opportunity to buck trends and introduce something completely different. But I’m not going to do that this time. It’s true, I want to offer something new and different. But let’s be honest. Sweetened rhubarb is just too darn good. So let’s climb on board with the rest of them and cook up something sweet–something different–but something sweet and different.
…Let’s cook up something worth remembering.
1 medium Orange
2 pounds Rhubarb, trimmed
1 cup Sugar
sweetened Yogurt (preferably Pequea Valley Vanilla)
1. Zest the orange and mince the zest; juice the orange.
String the rhubarb,
then cut it into roughly 2-inch lengths.
2. Combine the rhubarb, sugar, 1 quart water, the orange juice, and half the zest in the saucepan and bring to a boil.
(Wrap and refrigerate the remaining zest.) Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the rhubarb begins to fall apart, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Chill. When cool, whisk briefly to break up the rhubarb. Serve cold, garnish with reserved zest, and yogurt.
Rhubarb Iced Tea
- 1 medium Orange
- 2 pounds Rhubarb, trimmed
- 1 cup Sugar
- Crème Fraiche
- Zest the orange and mince the zest; juice the orange. String the rhubarb, then cut it into roughly 2-inch lengths
- Combine the rhubarb, sugar, 1 quart of water, the orange juice, and half the zest in a saucepan and bring to a boil. (Wrap and refrigerate the remaining zest.) Turn heat down to medium and cook until the rhubarb begins to fall apart, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Chill. When cool, whisk briefly to break up the rhubarb. Serve cold, garnish with reserved zest, and yogurt.