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Monday, June 8, 2015

Garden Therapy: Rhubarb Time

     When you live in Wyoming the warmer days and nights of summer are welcome. But one advantage of living in a northern climate is the wonderful Rhubarb we can grow. This time of year brings on an abundance of the red sour stalks. Rhubarb is an ancient plant that traces back to 2700 B.C. China. It is considered a vegetable, although most people eat it as a fruit. In 1947 a New York court decided because most people eat it as dessert it should be classified as a fruit in the U.S.  This was done for the purposes of regulation and duties. Either way it can be very tasty. 

     We have three plants this size. More then enough for us and plenty to share. An easy way I like to use Rhubarb is to make a compote. I cut the stalks into bite size pieces and put about 4 cups in a saucepan. Add water to cover and sugar to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer until the rhubarb breaks down and becomes soft. This makes a nice sauce to use over pancakes or anything else you think sounds good.

     I think my favorite way to enjoy rhubarb is as a drink. Several years ago I found a great recipe called Rhubarb Lemonade Spritzer. The nice thing is you can make up the syrup and have it on hand for a refreshing drink whenever you like. Although around here a batch doesn't last too long.

Rhubarb Lemonade Spritzer

6 cups water
1 cup natural cane sugar
6 cups coarsely chopped fresh rhubarb
zest and juice of 1 medium-large lemon
(about 1 tablespoon zest and 4 tablespoons juice)

In a saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil. Add rhubarb. Return to a boil, then simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add lemon zest and stir gently. Strain into a bowl, allowing pulp to drain for 10 minutes without pressing. Pour liquid into a pitcher and add lemon juice. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

To serve mix one portion syrup with an equal portion of unflavored sparkling water or a sparkling wine, such as Italian Prosecco.

Here's our grandson helping with the rhubarb harvest. (2011)

In case you don't already know the leaves and roots are poisonous to eat, they contain oxalic acid.

     My husband likes to pull off a stalk and eat it raw. It's a little too sour for me. I prefer the above mentioned ways. When the extreme summer heat hits then the rhubarb pretty much gives up and we have to wait until the next year. But cut up into bit size pieces it does freeze well. If you'd like to learn more about growing rhubarb check out this helpful site: Growing Rhubarb.

Here's a walking path of creeping thyme (rhubarb to the left)

Although you don't want to walk barefoot this time of year.

A thought to ponder: "Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished."
                                                                                                  Lao Tzu