I had always wanted a rhubarb patch of my own. A few years ago I finally got one. I moved into a house with lots of garden space, and several kindly friends who were thinning out their rhubarb patches donated some plants to the cause.
During that first season, I left the plants alone to acclimate themselves to their new home while I eagerly and somewhat impatiently dreamt of the jam, pies, and crisps to come as soon as the following spring arrived.
Alas, all my meager patch was willing to provide for me that next spring was a few paltry stalks. The following year I was able to get enough for a batch of rhubarb ginger jam, but I was beginning to wonder how those kindly friends had ever had so much rhubarb in their gardens that they actually had to thin it out.
I guess that speaks to my lack of experience with rhubarb. By the third year, my rhubarb patch had gone into a producing frenzy that hasn’t let up since. So I finally have my rhubarb patch and as much rhubarb as I could ever want. But not too much. You can never have too much rhubarb. There are so many ways to eat it, but my favorite is stewed rhubarb.
In case you’ve never made stewed rhubarb, this is how I do it: After removing the leaves (important because they contain poisonous oxalic acid) and washing the stalks, slice the rhubarb into one-inch pieces and put it in a saucepan. For each two cups of rhubarb add two tablespoons of water and three tablespoons of brown sugar. (Adjust the sugar to suit your taste. I don’t like it too sweet.) Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until tender, about five minutes.
Stewed rhubarb is best served warm. I like it with yogurt. It’s also good added to a bowl of cold or hot cereal. And, of course, vanilla ice cream.
The great thing about rhubarb is that it is easy to freeze, so you can enjoy it all winter. Just wash and slice, put in a plastic freezer box or freezer bag, and freeze. Now you’ve got the material to make stewed rhubarb whenever you like, or rhubarb crisp, rhubarb bread, rhubarb cake, or anything else that suits your fancy. Recipes coming soon!