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Needing some spring - is it possible to buy fresh or even frozen rhubarb these days?

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  1. There is a stall in the St Lawrence Market that had great looking fresh rhubarb a few weeks ago, and might still be bringing it in, although the proprietress complained that nobody was buying it. It's on the ground floor, in the north east corner of the building.

    1. My super cheap green grocer at Jones and Danforth has had it for the past couple of weeks (at least twice that I've seen, I can't guarantee they have it daily). Nice long stalks with quite a bit of colour, not the anemic pink ones you get sometimes. So, it's spring somewhere I guess! I'll be making a pie while looking outside at early evening sun imagining it's warmer.

      7 Replies
      1. re: julesrules

        You want the rhubarb with lots of green and little red. That should be a variety called Vctoria. Lots of good rhubarb oomph.

        1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

          Great thanks Vinnie, which stores carry that this time of year?

        2. re: julesrules

          Hi julesrules, which store are you referring to?

          1. re: foodyDudey

            It has a weird name I can never remember. It is on the north side of Danforth just barely east of Jones. Sounds like the ones at Carlaw might have it too. The place at Jones is relatively new, the people are nice and it's cheap and handy but not to much to recommend otherwise. They had lots of rhubarb yesterday, $1.99/lb, 3 long stalks to a package. When I cut into it it was white, flavour is ok, but pretty typical for the earliest rhubarb.

            1. re: julesrules

              Where do you think that rhubarb is from, it couldn't be from Ontario could it? Anyway I am just interested to know what the store is as I don't know of any green grocer right around there, but I'll have another look.

              1. re: foodyDudey

                I don't know where it's from, people have said forced/greenhouse but I don't know if that means local or down south somewhere. When I say 'earliest' rhubarb I am comparing it to the same thing from years previous - there is always some that shows up in stores before it could possibly be growing from Ontario outdoor soil. And it is always pink without any green in it. It's not the best but it's there.

                1. re: foodyDudey

                  I remember the store name now - Manke Fruits and Vegetables, 886 Danforth Ave.

          2. Fiesta Farms often has it quite early, from growers that force it in greenhouses. I haven't been there lately to see though.

            1. Metro [St Claire/Stockyards], NoFrills [Lansdowne and Dundas], vegetable guys on Roncesvalles, and veg. stores west of Bloor and Dundas [north side]--lots of rhubarb.

              1. Wait for the real deal. Frozen is pretty lifeless. Fresh, local rules with rhubarb.

                1. Rhubarb is local right now! Yes, it's forced. I visited one of the few farms still growing it a few years back.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Ferdzy

                    Thank you! Very interesting. I knew the early forced rhubarb was never green. The history is interesting too. I wonder if rhubarb will have a resurgence?

                    1. re: julesrules

                      Well, I'd like to think so, but I don't think it's too likely. People's tastes, (not necessarily chowhounds, but in general), seem to be heading more and more to the sweet and bland.

                  2. In a month or so there will be rhubarb growing like weeds. Such an amazingly tasty vegetable. Enjoy it in season.

                    1. I don’t want to start a rhubarb, but the problem is with the English.
                      It’s a story.
                      I am Polish I love rhubarb. Before we got married my wife tried to please me. She stewed some rhubarb for me. Not my way, but her way. She is a superb cook, but she is English. She made what to me is jam. I like rhubarb essentially as a loose soup, more or less a beverage, drunk out of a glass. Very little sugar, just enough to take off the bitterness. (The not yet Ms. : “that’s not the way it is supposed to be.” ) Not yet Ms. made it again and differently. She still screwed it up. Very little water and next to no sugar at all. (Remember, my way is not the way that it is supposed to be and I had intruded into her territory, the kitchen.) Of course the rhubarb was unpalatably sour. She said, just add water. You can’t. The water and what is the pot don’t meld. Like a badly constructed wine.
                      I haven’t asked the Ms. to make rhubarb again and she hasn’t offered.
                      The English like rhubarb a lot. (Their way.) In Canada it has become increasingly a specialty – why eat rhubarb when you can have styrofoam strawberries year round. And priced as a specialty - extraordinarily high. And when a store stocks it, it doesn’t sell, (see the post supra). Rhubarb continues spinning in a downward spiral .
                      On top of this, there is the change in tastes in rhubarb, such as there are tastes for something that gets bought less and less.
                      The old standard is Victoria. A reddish stem base quickly turning to green which in cooking is a dreary green. Victoria has gone much the way of cooking apples. They largely have been replaced by rhubarb Pommela Lees. For rhubarb, this means red- stemmed varieties, varieties such as Valentine, Sutton, German Wine and Canada Red. These varieties are more attractive because they have red stems and furthermore or as consequence have a lot less of the (perceived undesirable) tartness and none of the bitter tone (what I call character) of the good Victoria. They do make a better base for the English jam. Which goes perfectly with English bread. And it cooks to that attractive red colour.
                      The varieties that usually get forced and that you find are the insipid red stemmed varieties. When you can find rhubarb.
                      So rhubarb as an ingredient continues spinning in a downward spiral .
                      The bottom line for me is that I grow my own- Victoria. For those who don’t- and it is grows easily and carefree- wait for the season and find Victoria. You can buy frozen rhubarb or freeze your own. The quality problem isn’t from the freezing, it is to do with the variety.
                      Rhubarb and strawberries is a marriage made in heaven. But the standard strawberry rhubarb pie is far too sweet. And the sour cream in it is just glop. I suggest at the very least a lot less sugar if you cannot get a better variety of rhubarb and use maslanka or an Arabic or Indian yoghurt (no sugar and cleaner taste.)

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