The Undervalued Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a common site on allotments across the country. The vast majority of plots will have no more than 1 or 2 crowns. If you’re only ever likely to use Rhubarb to make a crumble, that will more than suffice.

Look beyond its common use in a crumble, or topped with custard, and Rhubarb is not only extremely versatile but also an incredibly useful crop for a healthy lifestyle. Low in sugar, high in fibre and low in carbohydrates. It also has an incredibly low Glycemic load (<1, on a scale of 1-100 – the higher the number, the more if affects your blood sugar levels). Rhubarb is a wonder crop for diabetics. The fibres found in rhubarb reduce the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream more than any other plant fibre.

Centuries ago, Rhubarb was commonly used as a laxative. During the Opium wars (1839-1842), the Chinese commissioner threatened to cut off Rhubarb supplies to Britain unless the British stopped supplying opium to China. His reasoning being that everyone in Britain would die of constipation as a result!

Growing Rhubarb

Most people buy Rhubarb Crowns, planted between Autumn and Spring. But it can also be grown from seed extremely cheaply if you’re prepared to have a little patience. A typical 1 or 2 year old Rhubarb crown will cost between £5 & £8 in the UK, whilst a packet of 50 seeds will cost less than £1. Germination is typically exceptionally good.

Using Rhubarb

Rhubarb stems will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. They can also easily be frozen for use later in the year. Wash & cut into 1-inch pieces before freezing.

Stewed or roasted rhubarb, topped with custard is something we’ve likely all had at some point in our lives – and remains delicious. Rhubarb prepared in the same way and served with Greek Yoghurt makes for a lovely breakfast. Use a sweetener instead of sugar and top with some chopped nuts for crunch. It’s perfect for anyone keeping their carb count low. This recipe for Rhubarb Pecan scones is on my ‘must try’ list in the coming months. With summer approaching Iced Rhubarb Tea sounds perfect for those long hot days.

Despite it’s common use as a fruit, it also works exceptionally well in savoury dishes too – such as Pork with Black Pudding and Rhubarb, or perhaps a Rhubarb Chutney paired with cheese.

How do you use yours?

Category: Allotment, Healthy Eating
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