Rhubarb is an infrequent visitor to the grocery stores around here in north Mississippi, but it does occasionally put in an appearance. Usually it’s in a ‘blink and you miss it’ kind of way, some years I don’t see it at all. But last week, finally, there were several bunches of the familiar long pink stalks for sale.
My grandmother who lived on the Hebridean island of Lewis used to make jam with it when I was a child, delicious served on large slabs of crusty bread and butter. I didn’t have nearly enough to attempt a jam making session, and besides, I’m trying to cut back on refined sugar these days so I opted to ‘stew’ what little I had instead.
It’s a bit of a stretch to call this a recipe really, so I’ll simply detail for you what how I cooked and ate it.
Before I start you ought to know that the leaves (not usually attached to the stalks in the grocery store) are toxic and must not be consumed. I trimmed the top of the stalks to remove remnant of leaves that were there, I don’t know if that small amount of leaf could cause problems but I wasn’t taking any chances.
Wash the stalks and then just cut into inch sized pieces, put in a little pot with a very small amount of water in the bottom. I didn’t measure the water, but you don’t want to cover the rhubarb, you almost want to steam it, so for about 4 or 5 stalks you probably only need a half cup of water, maybe a little more. Add in some sugar at this point, perhaps a quarter to a half cup depending on your taste. Put a lid on and cook on a low heat, It will take 5 minutes or more to get soft and if you over cook it you’ll have a mushy mess but it will still taste fine. If you prefer to use honey then it works better to add that in after a few minutes once the rhubarb has started to cook down.
You can eat is as it is, hot or cold. If you have any home made custard it is delicious served with that, whipped cream works nicely too if you can tolerate dairy.