Rhubarb is ripening! When the Spring comes, and the rhubarb grows, it’s a great time of year because the snails have not had a chance to infiltrate.
The rhubarb was already there when we bought the place. It comes back every year. I thin it and give it as gifts. Two of my friends have thriving patches in their gardens that all began with my garden starts of this humble plant.
Another friend took some to market one year. And still another pickles it and gives us a jar annually. Pickled rhubarb is just one of the many ways we enjoy it. Other ways include sauces, jams, jellies, cobblers, pies, tarts, cakes, compote, and – believe it or not – raw!
Yes, I’ve heard of people who dip it in sugar and just bite into it. And one person actually told me she munches on it raw without sugar! That is not for the faint of heart, as rhubarb tends to be VERY tart!
This plant is quite hardy. We absolutely love it. I have reason to believe that it may very well be an Heirloom variety. A neighbor told us it has been there for at least 60 years. By all official accounts, the house was built in 1850, so it is possible the patch has been there even longer.
GET RID OF THOSE LEAVES**
Before I continue, I want to make an important point! You may already know this, but on the off chance that you don’t – NEVER EAT THE LEAVES OF THE RHUBARB PLANT! They are highly toxic. The weird thing is, they will break down fine in the compost pile. But ALWAYS remove them before using your rhubarb in recipes.
I remember to do this by simply picking the rhubarb, then immediately pulling the leaves off and dumping them in the compost. That way, I’m walking into the house holding only the stalks.
If not using the rhubarb immediately, cut the leaf off, leaving just a bit on the end. I’ve read that this will help extend its shelf-life, and I’ve found this to actually be true in practice.
**Just remember to remove that last bit of leaf before you cook with it and/or eat it!
Rhubarb is actually a vegetable. That’s right. We use it as a fruit, though. Kind of the way we use fruits, like tomatoes and cucumbers, as vegetables. (Most of the time, anyway) And rhubarb has a delightfully fruity aroma.
While we love the beautiful red color of the stalk, some varieties are not so vivid in color. My rhubarb stalks, for example, often have a lot of green in them. (see above photo) I find that, for this particular variety, if a stalk is red near the base, that means it’s ripe.
It is very rich in dietary fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, particularly Vitamin C. Just another reason to add it to your fresh and preserved food arsenal!
It is believed that the origins of rhubarb date back to ancient Asia. I’ve also read that it has been recommended in ancient Chinese medicine for digestive ills, among other ailments. (Disclaimer – if you are to try this it is at your own risk.)
There are several opinions on the best way to pick and harvest your rhubarb. Some people believe in cutting it off with a knife. Still others like the “twist and pull” method. I do neither one. I choose the stalk I’m going to pick, then grab it firmly, close to the base, and simply pull it straight out.
Some people also like the stalks to be fairly chunky – about 1.5-2.5 inches thick – but I don’t always get that technical. I just don’t take the little baby spindly ones.
If you are new to rhubarb, I highly recommend planting plants or crowns, not seeds. You can plant seeds, but you’ll need more patience. Crowns or plants will speed up the time it takes you to obtain a yield.
That said, we are so grateful we inherited this little gem! Time to get busy! Since I didn’t have time to bake a pie, so a cobbler was in order. Here’s how to make a delicious rhubarb cobbler!
Vegan Rhubarb Cobbler
Use enough stalks of rhubarb to make about 4 or so cups of fruit. I had about 8 medium-sized stalks. Just roughly chop that up.
Then place it in a bowl with some organic raw cane sugar:
You can also add a little bit of cinnamon, vanilla, and cornstarch or arrowroot.
While that steeps, mix up the cobbler batter. The batter consists of:
Whole grain pastry flour (or gluten-free if preferred)
Brown sugar or cane sugar
The oven will need to be preheated to around 425°F. I keep things simple and don’t bother with sifting, although you could do that if you wanted. I simply put the dry ingredients in the bowl and combine thoroughly. Then I make a little well and add the liquid ingredients. No need to mix them separately first, just dump them in!
Some people like to add strawberries to their rhubarb. I’ve had good luck adding other fruits as well, such as other berries, or bananas or apples. You could certainly do this, although you may be surprised how delicious the rhubarb is on its own. This cobbler batter can be used for just about any fruit, by the way.
A hearty, delicious, plant-based cobbler that takes advantage of the rhubarb crop. Quick and easy, plus freezes well.
- 8 stalks fresh rhubarb - Chopped, to equal about 4 cups
- 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot
- 1 cup whole grain pastry flour - Use gluten-free if you need to
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 cup brown sugar or cane sugar
- 3/4 cup almond milk - Use other non-dairy milk of your liking
- 1/4 cup safflower oil
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Grease or oil a square 8" X 8" baking dish, or a round 8" cake pan.
Combine chopped rhubarb and cane sugar in a bowl.
Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, and cornstarch or arrowroot. Stir thoroughly. Allow to macerate while mixing the cobbler batter.
Stir together whole grain flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and brown sugar. Form a well in the center.
Add the almond milk, safflower oil, and vanilla extract. Stir until combined thoroughly, but don't overmix.
Pour Filling into prepared baking dish or pan.
Pour Cobbler Batter over the Filling and spread it out, without completely covering the fruit. It will expand as it bakes.
Sprinkle the top with a little cinnamon, if you like.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes, until the top browns. Allow to sit for about 10-15 minutes before serving.
If you like things "A La Mode," top with vegan vanilla ice cream!
Among the best things about making cobbler is that it is quick, simple, and you can use just about any fruit you have. If you are cooking for a small number of people or for a crowd, this cobbler is sure to please. You can double it and put it in a 9″ X 13″ baking pan, and it is still takes less time and less work than baking a pie. This recipe also freezes well if you have leftovers. Some folks I know would also enjoy this for breakfast. And definitely try it a la mode with some vegan vanilla ice cream!
What is your favorite way to enjoy rhubarb?