First, let us say that we adore rhubarb cobblers and crisps! The tartness of farm-fresh rhubarb, combined with the sweet ingredients in cobblers and crisps, creates an unforgettable taste sensation that we encourage all of you to enjoy to the fullest during this vegetable’s relatively short season.
We’d also like to invite you to consider expanding how you use rhubarb, in sweet and savory dishes alike. Mr. Frye’s Rhubarb, regeneratively farmed with love at The Chef’s Garden, offers up a tart and zesty flavor—and we’d put its flavor up against any other kind of rhubarb. Colors are beautifully brilliant, from light green to bright red, and these stalks hold up their hue under fire.
“Fresh rhubarb,” says Chef Jamie Simpson of the Culinary Vegetable Institute, “comes and goes quickly and, because its season overlaps that of strawberries, these two ingredients are often paired up in sweet applications—and they’re delicious together. I also love to bring this vegetable into more savory places. It’s acidic and acid is really welcome in savory dishes.”
One easy way to think about creative uses, Jamie says, is to imagine where you might use lemon—or other citrus—or vinegar. “There, you can lean into rhubarb instead. For example, we made a rhubarb salad dressing that also included knotweed and served it over poached veggies. The result was very simple and beautifully delicious.”
Here’s another easy way to incorporate the rhubarb plant into your family’s meal. Take your favorite barbecue sauce recipe and chop up a whole bunch of rhubarb and cook it with your other sauce ingredients: ketchup, vinegar, molasses, spices and so forth—and, once all is cooked and blended, strain the sauce to remove any stringy parts left over from the rhubarb.
“Use rhubarb on grilled salmon and in other fish dishes,” Jamie says, “and also pickle it. To do the latter, you peel the rhubarb and cut it up into small sections. Jar it, fill the jar with cold brine, and thereby pickle the vegetable. Then, store the pickled rhubarb in your refrigerator.”
Also consider fresh rhubarb in your beverages. You could, for example, chop it up and steep it in water until you’ve captured all of the flavor. Strain out the strings and use this flavored water in your iced tea.
“We’ve made bottled rhubarb soda,” Jamie shares, “out of rhubarb juice and water, sugar and yeast. When fermented in a bottle, the result is a carbonated drink that’s delicious all by itself, and also lends itself well in cocktails.”
You can add whole stalks of rhubarb into bottles of vodka or gin or create a simple rhubarb syrup—a one to one mixture of sugar and water, cooked with chopped rhubarb and strained—and use it in an Old Fashioned.
To create a rhubarb syrup for pancakes, waffles, French toast, and the like, triple the sugar until it has enough thickness.
“So many applications exist for rhubarb,” Jamie concludes, “and it can be fun to creatively think about new ones.”
While in season, Mr. Frye’s rhubarb can be included in the Best of the Season boxes. No matter how you like to prepare yours, simply enjoy!