Good, old fashioned rhubarb; it’s one of those things that polarises people. In fact, we’d go so far as to bet the bar diagram resulting from the survey question On a scale of one (being I’d rather gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon) to ten (Gimme, gimme, gimme), how would you fancy rhubarb crumble for pudding tonight? would have more in common with the Huntly power station than the usual Manhattan skyline. That’s how it is here on the Homestead anyway: split perfectly with three opting for no dessert and three fighting to shovel the shunned helpings onto their plates. When it comes to rhubarb,there’s just no, “It’s okay.”
In our previous Homesteads, the likelihood of any kind of rhubarb dish becoming a menu staple was not high. Generally we’d receive a couple of meals, tops, from our straggly, sad looking plants if we were/weren’t lucky (depending on which of the power station chimneys you were on) and that was our lot. Here? Oh, here at Union Homestead it’s a different story.
It may be the soil that makes our rhubarb such a vigorous grower, or the variety (the heirloom, Victoria) or maybe the fact that nearly all our scraps, scrapings and meal preparation trimmings (but ironically, not those of the rhubarb plant itself) go through either a chicken or goat before ending up in the compost we fling under the plants. As an aside, see how we said “plant” there? Apparently, it has managed to polarise even those tasked with the classification of the Rheum rhabarbarum. Technically a vegetable (a plant or part of a plant used as food) as opposed to a fruit (the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as food), in the USA a 1947 New York court ruled in favour of it being lumped in with the apples, oranges and bananas on the basis of that being how people ate it. Fruit or Vegetable, it grows rather well here in our little patch of earth and Glory, Glory Hallelujah or *insert suitable antonym – Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, perhaps – by visiting each of our three plants we have managed to put together our first rhubarb taste of the season.
How do we like it? Add a little sugar, maybe some vanilla, perhaps some cinnamon, serve it hot, cold, stewed under a crumble, bubbling under a sponge topping, stirred into our breakfast porridge, with custard, with ice cream, with cream, dusted with icing sugar or slurp it up all on it’s own. For this first harvest, though, we’re going making a bit of a fuss.
Don’t feel too bad for the HRH (Homestead Rhubarb Haters); there’s boysenberry ice cream in the freezer and everyone loves that.