After all, wide and wrinkled ruffles grow on the south side of every farm garage. Every Memorial Day picnic ends with a lattice wedge of rhubarb pie. Throughout the winter, the aunts and uncles sip the rhubarb wine harvested last year, while the grandmother does the finishing touches for the Sunday dinner.
In spring, rhubarb is as common as lilac. Desserts include rhubarb paste, rhubarb crisp, rhubarb pie or rhubarb pie.
If mom wants to make a fuss, we will have a rhubarb whirlpool. She would pat a batch of Bisquick dough into a rectangle, cover it with chopped rhubarb, and roll it up like jelly. Put the one-inch-thick slices into a 13 x 9 pan so you can see the swirl. Finally, she poured hot syrup on the whole thing and baked it until the dough was golden brown and cracked, and the rhubarb melted into a sticky jam.
Topped with cream skimmed from the milk jug, this is a dessert, I am sure it can’t exist in any other state, because my mother only lives in South Dakota.
Crossing national borders, I learned that rhubarb exists in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin. I speculate that even garages in North Dakota may have their own ruffled borders.
However, about ten years ago, when writing a recipe about using rhubarb in a sweet and savory way, the rarity of rhubarb was restored.
The acquaintances who grew up in the south were stunned by my mission. “A cookbook about what? What is rhubarb?”
Facts have proved that, although not limited to South Dakota, rhubarb is a typical food in the north-all over the world.
Rhubarb originated in northern China as a medicine, then became a staple food in northern Russia, and then entered the Nordic countries, where immigrants from these countries took it to South Dakota and other places.
Today, Oregon, Washington, and Michigan account for the majority of U.S. production, providing long-term cold temperatures that trigger cessation periods, thereby spurring new growth.
It is true that there is something called “forced rhubarb” that is very large in the UK, and involves growing rhubarb when indoor light is limited. Its main selling point is obviously sweeter than ordinary rhubarb.
The whole point of eating rhubarb is to experience its sour, almost tannin, and even intimidating taste. Nothing else “tastes like rhubarb”. Rhubarb is itself, nothing else. This leads to love and hate, which is good. More food should inspire clear opinions.
Maybe you own your own plants, maybe it’s cuttings that have been passed down from generation to generation, or you rely on the abundant resources of the farmers’ market. It’s the season now, and there are months of unhappiness. For those of us who pursue and persist in the northern climate, rhubarb is still the determinant factor that we will never grow up.
Although rhubarb has a long history in desserts and its common name is “pie plant”, rhubarb is a vegetable. Its Latin name is Rheum rhabbarbarum.
Yes, its leaves contain high levels of oxalic acid, which may be toxic, but most references point out that you must eat a lot of rhubarb leaves, measured in pounds, to cause problems.
The harvested rhubarb can be stored for several days in the produce box of the refrigerator. To keep it longer, wrap the stem with aluminum foil to protect the end, but let it loose enough to allow the ethylene gas to escape.
Rhubarb is low in carbohydrates and high in vitamin C and K, fiber and potassium. Rhubarb is also a rich source of antioxidant plant compounds.
Rhubarb is almost 95% water, which affects the way it is prepared. If the recipe only requires a little cooking liquid, don’t worry-no problem.
Although the initial heating of rhubarb may cause more hissing than you think, keep in mind that rhubarb will decompose very quickly. Be patient, the result will become less sour, with a richer rhubarb flavor.
Like many vegetables, roasted rhubarb not only enhances the flavor, but also provides a good basis for sweet and savory recipes or as a topping alone. You can also freeze roasted rhubarb.
Fresh rhubarb is easy to freeze. Wash it, cut it into half-inch pieces, and put it in a freezer bag, leaving a half-inch space on the top. Thaw and drain before use.
Another method of freezing: Blanch the cut rhubarb (soak it in boiling water for one minute, then put it in ice water for another minute). Drain and arrange in a single layer on a tray and freeze until the rhubarb hardens. Transfer to a freezer bag and freeze.
Kim Ode will teach an online course “Reshaping Rhubarb” at the North House Folk School in Da Marais, Minnesota from 10 am to 1 pm on May 28. The fee is $60; for more information and registration, please visit northhouse.org.
Whisk together biscuit crumbs, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and oil. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Fold the rhubarb and coconut, if using.
Fill the muffin cup two-thirds full. Sprinkle with garnish sugar. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the muffin pan from the oven and transfer to a metal rack to cool. Carefully remove the muffins from the pan and serve.
Note: This sweet and delicious condiment is natural rhubarb. It is a great addition to the cheese plate, or an accompaniment to grilled meat. This is a “brighter” adaptation of the original formula in Kim Ode’s “Rhubarb Renaissance”. (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2012).
Put the rhubarb, onion, figs, wine and sugar in a saucepan and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the mustard seeds and dried mustard, continue to simmer until the mixture thickens and syrupy, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add vinegar and cook for another 30 seconds. Set aside to cool before use.
Note: This pie needs to be frozen for at least six hours, preferably overnight, so plan ahead. From “Rhubarb Renaissance” by Kim Ode (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2012).
Prepare the crust: preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat the pie pan with cooking spray. Stir the biscuit crumbs, powdered sugar, butter and milk evenly. Reserve 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs for garnish and press the rest into the pie pan to form an even layer on the bottom and sides. Bake for 15 minutes, then place on a metal rack to cool.
Prepare the filling: preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the rhubarb in a shallow baking pan (such as a pie pan), and then evenly sprinkle powdered sugar on the fruit. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once, until the rhubarb is very soft. (Late summer rhubarb may have less moisture than the first rhubarb in spring, so watch carefully. If it looks hot before it softens, add a tablespoon of water.)
Carefully put the roasted rhubarb in a blender, add Triple Sec (or orange juice) and salt to puree. Or stir quickly in a bowl to make a coarse puree. Set aside.
In a saucepan that can hold a medium-sized bowl, bring about 2 inches of water to a boil. While the water is heating up, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and tartar in a medium bowl. Reduce the heat to maintain the hydrothermal fire, then place the bowl on the pan. Using a medium-speed hand blender, beat the egg whites until foamy, about 3 minutes. Increase the speed to high speed and stir until the egg whites begin to shine. Move the stirrer around the bowl for about 3 minutes or more. Remove the bowl from the pan and place it on the counter; continue to stir the mixture until the meringue maintains a firm peak when the whisk is lifted.
Pour the rhubarb puree into the warm meringue until there are no streaks, then scrape into the graham cracker crust. Smooth the top, and then sprinkle the reserved crumbs on the filling. Put it in the refrigerator, uncovered, for one hour, then lightly cover with plastic film, and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours or preferably overnight. Take it out of the refrigerator about 10 minutes before serving to make it easier to slice.
Post time: Nov-17-2021