Rhubarb: Dessert From the Farm

More
sayle apr28 realrhubarb.jpg

Photo by Svadilfari/FlickrCC


To try this dish of baked rhubarb, berries, and créme fraîche, click here.

As Austin becomes more cosmopolitan, our population includes many folks from "up north." Yankees, we fondly call them. As they come to our farm stand, some will ask if we can grow the things down here they cherish in the latitudes of long-daylight summers and cooler nights. Rhubarb, for instance, which is a perennial there.

For quite a few years, I've been growing parsnips for the Irish and daikon radishes for the macrobiotics and Asians, so, I thought, well "the wahr" was over long ago. Maybe it's time to do something agriculturally nice for the recent transplants--besides tobacco, I mean.

Tobacco did grow on our farm in the mid-1800's, as the pioneers immigrated from North Carolina. I bet, however, that it wasn't too successful a crop, as while we have a lot of humidity and heat, Central Texas is not the Deep South. Daring as they were to move here, I doubt the pioneers grew rhubarb. They'd likely never heard of it.

Well, Texans though we are, we've heard of it, and we like a challenge, so four years ago we grew rhubarb from seed and planted the resulting transplants in a timorous single bed. To see if it would work, you understand. We generally do not jump into volume unless we find out that the crop will grow well and that there will be a market for it. Our five-acre farm is too tiny for giant experiments.

This first tentative trial did work, and we were surprised that even native Texans scooped the blushing red/green stalks off our market table, enchanted to try the pie they'd read about: strawberry/rhubarb.

Why would they want to ruin a good strawberry pie, I wondered? Strawberries and rhubarb do reach harvest stage at the same time, April, but gee, keep strawberries out of anything except smoothies, fresh cream or ice cream!

Bravely, I cooked up a rhubarb "pudding," as I'd seen cookbook author Deborah Madison do in a cooking class in which I explained how to grow the plant and she cooked it. I substituted honey in my endeavor, as we don't use white sugar, except for the farm stand coffee bar. The resulting greenish sludge was not wildly favored by any of us, but we tried to like it. Perhaps we should have added some delicious strawberries?

This year, the little November-planted rhubarbs struggled all winter without any rain, but finally in the last couple of months we've had about six inches, and the leaves are now bigger than a tractor seat and the green stalks have a blushing red tint at the base. They'll be ready for the market tables this week! Along with, sigh, strawberries.

By summer, however, whatever spindly stalks remain after harvest will melt down in our heat. They are not perennials down here, but next September, we will seed out plants again. By April, the Yanks will buy strawberries and rhubarb and enjoy the nostalgia of the combination.

Recipe: Rhubarb With Berries and Candied Ginger

Jump to comments
Presented by

Carol Ann Sayle is co-founder and co-owner of Boggy Creek Farm, a five-acre urban, organic farm in Austin, Texas.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

What makes a story great? The storytellers behind House of CardsThis American LifeThe Moth, and more reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

From This Author

Just In