In season: Rhubarb

Message from George McIvor, Chairman of The Master Chefs of Great Britain

The Master Chefs of Great Britain was formed in 1980 to provide a forum for the exchange of culinary ideas and to further the profession through training and the guidance of young chefs.

I will leave you with a lasting memory of my childhood. My mother would cut rhubarb raw into small sticks and place them
in a greaseproof bag with warmed granulated sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. Rhubarb dip!

Official tasting notes

In the UK, the first rhubarb of the year is harvested by candlelight in forcing sheds in Yorkshire. Cultivated by a process where all light is excluded, this practice produces a sweeter, more tender, slimmer stalked vegetable. 

The colour of rhubarb stalks can vary from the commonly associated crimson red to speckled light pink to simply light green. Rhubarb stalks are poetically described as “crimson stalks”. The colour is a result of the presence of anthocyanins and varies according to both rhubarb variety and production technique.

Notes: Rhubarb is a very hardy vegetable grown widely in the UK, and if you are not careful and keep it in check it can very quickly take over your garden.  Often rhubarb can be found growing in the wild from discarded roots in garden rubble.

Usage: A childhood favourite of pies and crumbles with custard, rhubarb is also used extensively in ice creams, sorbets, vinegars, dried crisps, jelly, gel, and jams.

1. A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN

A team of Westminster Kingsway students created this rhubarb and ginger parkin tart with ginger ice cream, rhubarb syrup and rhubarb tuile as part of their menu at the 2018 Country Range Student Chef Challenge Final.

2. FIRST PLACE

 Tilda Chef Team of The Year 2020 winners, Saurav Nath and Anup Nangwal created a seasonal rhubarb rice pudding with Jasmine rice, caramelised orange peel and roasted almond flakes.

3. GIN-TERESTING

Create a stunning but simple dessert by poaching rhubarb in a gin syrup and serve with a delicious mango mousse created with Carte D’Or Mango Mousse powder.

4. DUCK DELIGHT

Ben Addey, student chef at Sheffield College has created this amazing dish of duck breast which is accompanied by pickled rhubarb, roasted cashew purée, a duck faggot and rhubarb ponzu.

5. NO APRIL FOOLS

Delight your residents or customers with this flavour-packed rhubarb, ginger and custard fool. Add flaked almonds and crumble mix to add layers of texture to this sweet treat.

Recipes supplied by: 1. Westminster Kingsway College team, 2018, 2. Tilda Foodservice, 3. James Birch, Unilever Foodsolutions business development chef, 4. Benjamin Addey, Sheffield College, 5. Country Range development chef Paul Dickson.

ALSO IN SEASON:

Jersey Royals, Watercress, Pork, Radishes, Halibut, Grapefruit

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT

Use up leftover rhubarb stalks by making a delicious rhubarb and ginger jam or a homemade rhubarb syrup that can be used in cocktails, over fruit and other desserts.

Unlike the leafy greens of many root vegetables, the leaves of rhubarb are not edible due to the high levels of harmful oxalic acid they contain. However, the oxalic acid will break down as the leaves decompose so they are still suitable to compost.