Obsessed With Rhubarb #2
C’mon, rhubarb is a bizarre and tasty enigma. It’s a vegetable that acts like a fruit. It’s tough and stringy until you apply a little heat – then it loses its backbone. Its leaves are a no-no because they contain some poisonous substances yet the beautiful red stalks are safe to eat. What a wacky creature!
I overheard someone at the Green City Market last week lamenting the fact that there was no fruit. Well, A) it’s early spring in the Midwest so eating locally and seasonally means no fruit and B) Hey! What is rhubarb? Chopped liver?!
I love the stuff, as evidenced by my first post about rhubarb obsession. Last year was my first year gardening, canning and freezing so I want to share an insanely easy rhubarb tip with you. When it was winter and you were trying to eat locally, there wasn’t much around, right? Well, you have to lay stuff up. I had all kinds of fresh, local, healthy fruits stashed away in my freezer over the winter, neatly labeled with the farm’s name so I could stay connected to my farmers even in the off-season. Freezing fruit is embarrassingly easy. You…just…put…it…in…the…freezer.
And, well, for extra credit, if they’re small fruits like blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, lay them out on a cookie sheet, freeze them, then bag them. This way they don’t stick together in a big ball and you can reach into the ziploc or tupperware, grab a handful and wing ’em into your blender for a fresh fruit smoothie in, say, January! Why wouldn’t you do that?
Here’s one more tip to buffering against the fruitless winters. Make something tasty and…what? Yeah, freeze it! Buy an armload of rhubarb (it cooks down a lot). Simmer it in simple syrup and a splash of vanilla until it turns to mush. Drain a little of the liquid off to make your friends a gin cocktail on the spot and put the rest of the compote in small containers and freeze. In the dead of winter, you can smear goat cheese on a piece of toast and top with local rhubarb! Don’t forget the cafá au lait!
Here’s another embarrassingly easy cooking tip.