Waiting for the natural season of fruit and vegetables usually always means that you’ll get things naturally in their prime. It’s something we stand firm in our boots on; eat in season. There is one exception though… forced rhubarb. Depriving rhubarb of light makes the stems shoot upwards, searching for light, which makes for a more succulent-tasting product. Unlike sturdier outdoor-grown stalks, delicate forced rhubarb has an elegant sourness that needs only very light cooking, and a touch of sugar is usually added. Forced rhubarb farms are often harvested in candlelight; keeping their shoots as tasty as possible.
The process of photosynthesis toughens the fibres in the shoots and creates and a more acidic flavour. Rhubarb is an investment – with the plants often spending two years in the field without being harvested. Britain produced so much rhubarb from the famous Yorkshire triangle that they had a train run each day between Christmas and Easter just for forced rhubarb to be taken from Ardsley to Spitalfields and Covent Garden!
Here is our homage to the wonderful pink stalks:
Rhubarb Gin & Tonic
with floating rose petals
with rhubarb slaw & fennel seeds
with rhubarb purée & walnut granola
Rhubarb, raspberry & dark chocolate bread & butter pudding
with sparkling chocolate & pistachio dust