The coming of spring means the arrival of a new generation of fruits and vegetables in season. For BC, one of the most anticipated local delicacies is rhubarb. This celery-like plant is hard to overlook, as its bright pink stalks simply command attention. It packs a fresh tartness that is synonymous with spring — energetic, fragrant, and flavourful.
Rhubarb is often called the “pie plant,” and for good reason. Its tangy flavour makes it the perfect addition to sugary desserts, injecting a zing to compotes, cream pastries, and of course, pies. The popularity of these sweets is ubiquitous. Just look around your local cafes and bakeries — they should be lined with treats flavoured with rhubarb and strawberry, rhubarb and apple, or even pork with rhubarb. Aside from adding a tartness to sweet flavours, it is also commonly used as an acid to cut through oily dishes such as porkchops and lambchops.
When choosing rhubarb, select the taut, shiny stalks that are heavy with juices. They will yield the most tender texture when cooked. The colour makes a difference in flavour too: bright pink stalks mean a tangier taste, while greener stalks will give off a milder flavour.
Preparing rhubarb is an easy but impressive feat. Simply cooking it in a pot with some water will reveal a smooth, jelly-like texture that is ready to be transformed into jam, compote, or pie filling. The cooking time can be adjusted to your preferred consistency. Longer cooking time will yield a smoother texture, while shorter time on high heat will make a tender but chunky rhubarb base.
While most commonly used in decadent treats, rhubarb is highly nutritious. It is a high source of vitamins C and K, calcium, manganese, and fibre.
To take advantage of this BC delicacy, visit your local produce section and try rhubarb before the season is over!