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Jun 28, 2003 05:30 PM

rhubarb questions

  • c

Any hints or secrets I should know about choosing and cooking rhubarb. It was never something I had as a kid growing up in Southern Ca. but I've seen it in the Farmers market and bought some today along with a box of strawberries. I was thinking a compote to serve with shortbread and cream. The stems I bought are rather narrow red at the bottom to pale green at the top, do I use just the red part or the whole stalk? Should the ratio of rhubarb to strawberrie be half and half or more strawberry? Thanks in advance.

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  1. I've made a simple compote with rhubarb, strawberries, orange juice and sugar; and after a while I realized that the proportion of rhubarb and strawberries can be altered without bad effects. It's a very forgiving thing, it just depends on what you like the most. (Chunks of fruit, or very fine cut's; lots of sugar or very little; quite a bit of orange juice, or none.)
    Rhubarb is relatively new to me also, but I've used stalks with greenish hues. No problem with them, so long as green is not the predominant color. If so, it's no good for anything sweet.
    You might want to do a search on 'rhubarb' in the recipe box of
    Couple of years ago, Gourmet magazine had an article with several rhubarb recipes, and one of them was for an upside-down rhubarb anise cake that is unusual but very, very good, particularly if you put some walnuts in with the rhubarb at the bottom.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Mar a
      babette feasts

      Ooh, anise sounds good. I like to add a good pinch of ground cloves to anything rhubarb. And brown sugar over white.

      1. re: Mar a

        I found a rhubarb anise upside-down cake recipe at the Epicurious site. Could this be the same recipe that you had good luck with? Link below...


      2. b
        babette feasts

        You can use the whole stalk, but the greener parts will be more tart than the redder parts. Do make sure to throw away any leaf that might not have been fully trimmed. Ratio is up to you. Half and half would be an appropriate starting point. Keep in mind that rhubarb breaks down with not a whole lot of cooking, not that it's a bad thing, just that with prolonged cooking or much stirring you'll have strawberries in rhubarb sauce.

        1. This link will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about rhubarb -- it even has recipes:


          1 Reply
          1. re: Nancy Berry

            Thanks for all replies, what a great site, everything you ever wondered about rhubarb, including a rhubarb song by John Cleese and the fact that rhubarb can clean your pans, oxalic acid in the leaves, isnt that what barkeepers friend is made of???

          2. The spices and the orange sounds good. I tried Martha Stewart's rhubarb technique where she pours the boiling liquid over the raw rhubarb then lets it sit. ick, we ended up with raw sweetened fibrous stuff.

            We've grown rhubarb over the years, and grew up eating it every summer. The addition of strawberries didn't come along until I was in high school.

            Different varieties of the plants have different shades of red, so that isn't something I worry about much.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Betty

              When I was a kid, there was a luxurious stand of rhubarb growing next to the bull pen, so I'm sure it was liberally fertilized.

              Mom would just chop the stalks into chunks, 1 - 2" long, add a little water and quite a bit of sugar and simmer for a few minutes until semi-broken up. Or, for pie, she'd just pile the pieces onto the crust dough, dump in sugar mixed with cornstarch, lay on the top crust and bake. Super simple. The very idea of adding strawberries never occurred to anyone.

              The pie was much enhanced by vanilla icecream or whipped cream.

              1. re: Sharuf

                Exactly. maybe a pinch of cinnamon, but no strawberries. I kind of don't like anything messing with the rhubarb, but maybe because we grew up eating it.

            2. Rhubarb is not only for dessert. Try this. Heat 2-3 stalks with some olive oil and a 4-5 teaspoons of sugar until it is soft and mushy. Take of heat and add a half diced red onion and and 4-5 tablespoons of dijon mustard and some lime juice. Serve warm with grilled salmon or chicken.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mdibiaso

                A question for mdibiaso...

                In your rhubarb side-dish, do you start with chopped rhubarb. Or do you keep the stalks whole?