Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dreams of Rhubarb

         

( Photo: www.oasisnewsfeatures.com  )



    Preparedness is as much learning to use what is available to you as anything else. Too many times people look past the many resources they have to which we too easily become accustomed.  On this farm I have multiple types of pears including the Asian variety, which I love. We also have chives, mint,  kiwi, blackberries, strawberries, grapes, blueberries,and  lettuces of many kinds. We also have haskap. I also grow sprouts for sandwiches and salads, on occasion. We are waiting for apples, peaches, plums, and other fruits when the trees mature sufficiently to be able to bring the fruits to maturity.   Just now, all of these trees develop the fruit, but if we leave the fruit on the trees, the weight damages the young trees as the fruit grows and weighs down the trees.  We carefully remove the fruit early for the apples, peaches and plums, and compost the fruit.  It is our hope that next season the root systems and the branches of these trees will be strong enough to deliver some fruit to maturity.   We also have a wonderful herb garden, and we grow seasonally some vegetables each year.   There is one thing though, that I do not have here, and that I miss immensely.


This is what a mature rhubarb plant looks like. (Picture: georgeweigel.net )



               When I was a little girl, my parents bought a large rural home that was built at the time of the Civil War.  It took them almost twenty years to restore it, but the outside was always lovely and grew many things well and easily.  One of the things that was well established when my parents bought the house was a large rhubarb patch in a shady area of the well established fenced vegetable garden.    Initially unfamiliar with preparing rhubarb, my mother stewed it, and served it for breakfast.  I was five at the time, and I wasn't going to be eating any of that tart stuff !  She consulted with some of the rural neighbors and also took a book or two from the library, and slowly but surely developed a repetoire as to what to do with this large and constantly producing source of fresh food.  Eventually, she used it in an amazing rhubarb with strawberry pie.   She also made a rhubarb tart served with Bird's style custard she made herself, consistent with her British upbringing.   She also made an amazing rhubarb crumble.   Our well established rhubarb patch provided rhubarb not only for us for a very long stretch of time during the year, but for our friends and distant neighbors as well.


This is a rhubard custard tart.  (Photo: http://www.dragonsandfairydust.co.uk)



                  I must admit I took rhubarb for granted.  When my husband and I bought our third home with a large garden for growing vegetables, I bought rhubarb and carefully planted the familiar plants as directed.  They died late that July despite the fact that I had planted them in partial shade and watered as directed.   I tried several other times in different homes we've had since, two of them farms, only to have the plants die during the hottest part of the year.  The difference is that the established rhubarb patch of my parent's home was in rural Northwestern New Jersey, and most of my homes, as an adult,  have been in suburban or rural areas of Virginia where for most of the year it is significantly hotter, dryer and more humid..  Many things are much tougher to start here than they were in New Jersey's cooler climate and much richer soil.  It took me time to establish blueberries here, and I eventually established kiwi as well.  Sadly, I have never been able to get rhubarb to establish here, nor do the grocery stores locally sell it.
                 Rhubarb is an herbaceaous perennial which grows from a rhizome.  The leaves are quite nephrotoxic and poisonous. The stalks,  however, are a bit like celery, and this is the part we salvage and use to eat.   The plant is actually considered a vegetable, but in the US in 1947, a court declared it a fruit for regulatory purposes, and so, we will here also. It is quite tart and although it can be sweetened with sugar, stevia and other sweeteners may be used.  The trick is to keep some of the tartness.  Rhubarb grows well in England, in parts of the US, in Turkey, Russia,  China and  Greece. It has become established in Scandinavia, and in parts of Canada.   It is used in Chinese medicine also.
                 If you are in a part of the country or the world in which rhubarb does well, then it is well worth selecting a place in the garden where children and animals will not ingest the leaves, and trying your hand at growing rhubarb. It can be used in a rhubarb cherry crisp and also in a chicken stir fry.  A rhubarb pork stir fry is said to be fantastic.

    

How to freeze rhubarb:



http://www.rhubarb-central.com/freezing-rhubarb.html


Dehydrating Rhubarb:

http://www.rhubarb-central.com/dried-rhubarb.html



Rhubarb recipes for diabetics and dieters:  Sugar free rhubarb recipes

 http://www.rhubarb-central.com/sugar-free-rhubarb-recipes.html


       Rhubarb is a healthy food which is said to naturally lower blood pressure and may have anti-cancer properties.  It is not as extremely easy to grow in US hot climates as some of its press indicates.  However, for 26 calories a full cup, it should certainly be explored.

 It's definitely worth a look:


http://www.rhubarb-central.com/
Rhubarb Nutrition Facts
NUTRITION FACTS
For 1 Cup of Diced, Raw Rhubarb:
Calories ....................26
Dietary Fibre ................2 grams
Protein ......................1 gram
Carbohydrates .................6 grams
Vitamin C ...................10 mg
Vitamin A ..................122 IU
Folic Acid .................8.7 mg
Calcium ....................105 mg
Potassium ..................351 mg
- See more at: http://www.rhubarb-central.com/rhubarb-nutrition.html#sthash.hoOX1bep.dpuf
Rhubarb Nutrition Facts
NUTRITION FACTS
For 1 Cup of Diced, Raw Rhubarb:
Calories ....................26
Dietary Fibre ................2 grams
Protein ......................1 gram
Carbohydrates .................6 grams
Vitamin C ...................10 mg
Vitamin A ..................122 IU
Folic Acid .................8.7 mg
Calcium ....................105 mg
Potassium ..................351 mg
- See more at: http://www.rhubarb-central.com/rhubarb-nutrition.html#sthash.hoOX1bep.dpuf
Rhubarb Nutrition Facts
NUTRITION FACTS
For 1 Cup of Diced, Raw Rhubarb:
Calories ....................26
Dietary Fibre ................2 grams
Protein ......................1 gram
Carbohydrates .................6 grams
Vitamin C ...................10 mg
Vitamin A ..................122 IU
Folic Acid .................8.7 mg
Calcium ....................105 mg
Potassium ..................351 mg
- See more at: http://www.rhubarb-central.com/rhubarb-nutrition.html#sthash.hoOX1bep.dpuf

13 comments:

BBC said...

I love rhubarb pies....

I suck at gardening but have lots of friends that garden and always have extra in case I want or need some. I'm always willing to trade some of my other skills for food if it comes to that.

JaneofVirginia said...

I would love a piece of homemade rhubarb pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on it right now !

Linda said...

I love rhubarb. I am told by people of this county that rhubarb was grown here long ago. It seems the climate changed over the last 50 years. I do have rhubarb seeds from a fellow blogger. I will try. I can bring it into ac if needed...lol.

When friends or people in the produce department ask what rhubarb tastes like, I have thought of an answer--tart like lemon, but like lemonade when cooked with sugar. That seems to make it clear to the questioners.

The grocery got none this year, so I am going to have to travel to another, larger city to get rhubarb. sigh

Sandy said...

Jane,

Strawberry rhubarb pie sounds good, I haven't had a piece of this type of pie since I was 10 years old.

JaneofVirginia said...

And I have not had a piece since I was nineteen. We are BOTH deprived ! It's funny what we look back on and remember. I like tart things now far more than I did then.

JaneofVirginia said...

Linda,

Since rhubarb grows from a rhizome I didn't know it was even possible to start from seed. I looked it up though and found that using seeds it is possible to get it to the rhizome stage, but it takes about two years, to get plants established from seed.
I am many miles from two cities, half way between them. I am unaware of anywhere that I can get rhubarb. Perhaps I can have one of the unusual grocers look for it for me. I have not seen it in a grocery store for many years.
If you are successful in growing it, please let me know. I suspect that it is too hot here to grow it now, or at least this is what local Master Gardeners have told me.

russell1200 said...

Rhubarb is awesome. But it is a little too hot to easily make it work this far south. I tried once, but didn't have any luck.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks Russell, I'm thinking lack of rhubarb might be on the very short list of things I liked better in the North than in the South. However, the taxes and gun laws probably place me squarely in the South forever......unless of course, the Canadians let me live in my house in Canada full time when I retire. No, aliens are more likely to being me their newest antibiotics. LOL.

BBC said...

Here in Washington state I think gun laws are favorable, when we pay any attention to them at all, in the west we like to be rebels. LOL

Kristin said...

I miss rhubarb. It's just too hot here.

JaneofVirginia said...

Today after doing the farm thing from 4 am to 8am, one of my sons and I ran an errand in the city. While we were killing time we stopped at the store "Tuesday Morning". As if my desire for rhubarb wasn't strong enough, they had a jar of expensive jam which was rhubarb and strawberry. I passed. It just wouldn't be the same, and probably too many calories.

lotta joy said...

Yours is the first blog I've visited in weeks! And I made sure not to cough on the computer screen. I remember only one time, eating rhubarb and it tasted like the best strawberry pie I'd ever eaten.

JaneofVirginia said...

I am so glad to have you back ! I hope you are back on the mend. O still have not yet solved my craving for some rhubarb. I must be deficient in something that rhubarb has. Welcome back. I can always use face time with Lotta Joy !