Rhubarb facts, myths and a recipe

Rhubarb is the monster in the garden. It grows as fast as Jack’s beanstalk and is supposedly poisonous. Served as part of school dinners it occasioned grimaces and fake spewing up in the lunch-line when the whisper went back ‘It’s rhubarb and custard for afters’ and it’s the name of a cartoon dog remembered fondly by people of a certain age.

Rhubarb is delicious, but the leaves are poisonous so you shouldn’t be eating them or feeding them to livestock. It is safe to compost them, but if you’re canny, you’ll tear them up a bit to ensure they biodegrade thoroughly. Rhubarb poisoning symptoms include: burning mouth and throat, breathing difficulties, eye pain, stomach ache and nausea, vomiting, coma and seizures – scary or what?

And don’t eat raw rhubarb stalks (as if you would) because although it won’t kill you, it will make you feel wretched.

But rhubarb is also delicious, easy to grow and keeps rabbits out of the plot if you plant it around the edge. And if you make it into a meringue, your family will love you to bits.

Rhubarb Cloud

1 kilo rhubarb
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 egg whites
180 grams castor sugar
A small piece of grated fresh ginger, or half a teaspoon of powdered ginger

Preheat oven to 220°c. Cut the rhubarb into thumb-length chunks and then mix it with the brown sugar. Put the mixture in a lightly buttered ovenproof dish and cook for around thirty minutes until it has softened and is giving up its juices.

Put the rhubarb aside while you let the oven cool to 180°c. Beat the egg whites until stiff and as they reach the peaking stage, add the castor sugar in a couple of stages and ginger. Now spread this over the rhubarb and bake for twenty minutes until it has a golden tinge. Serve at once.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Blogger Mark Hubbard said...

My favourite vegetable/herb/fruit - whatever it is. I'm able still to harvest my two crowns about every five weeks if I keep them well watered. Though each harvest only gives me about two weeks of breakfasts, so I'm going to plant more in (Spring ?)

Great recipe: I've copied and pasted.

March 4, 2009 at 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Sounds delicious! OH hates rhubarb but maybe this will be recipe to convert him...

March 4, 2009 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Lizzie said...

We are all rhubarb fans in our family. My sister swears by a teaspoon of bicarb in the cooking. You dont need anything like as much sugar to sweeten it. My kids used to call it Raaboo when they were little, so we cook raaboo crumble in our house!


March 4, 2009 at 12:57 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Mark and Lizzie, that's excellent. Amy - don't tell him what it is and see if he laps it up. Our allotment neighbour, John, hates rhubarb too, but for a very unusual reason. When he was a little boy he found an adder nesting in the middle of a rhubarb crown! I think that would put me off too ...

March 14, 2009 at 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Denise said...

As a child growing up in the 1950s I often used to go down the garden with a saucer of sugar and pick raw rhubard stalks, dip them in the sugar and eat them. Many of my friends used to do this as well. We never felt ill or suffered any ill effects,

March 16, 2009 at 2:42 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Ah Denise, I think that's like people who can eat green apples - if you start young enough, your stomach adjusts to the extreme acidity of the fruit. I can eat very sour apples because we had a tree in our garden when I was growing up but my husband can't - he gets raging colic.

March 18, 2009 at 9:33 AM  
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