Sunday, May 13, 2012

Rhubarb



The only things I knew about rhubarb when I bought it were that it is tart and the leaves are poisonous. That in a nutshell is what kept me from trying it. Push came to shove and here I am expanding my food boundaries.

The stalks are really pretty, reminiscent of sunrises. Or sunsets.


Cutting off the caloused end, the interior is really vibrant. I'm guessing those white dots are xylem, for water transport.


The majority of the leaves have been removed. I wonder why they leave a little bit of green on there? Do they trim just enough so that if you were to eat the leaves remaining you wouldn't get sick? Nah, it probably has something to do with maintaining freshness. It makes me think of frog feet.


Chopping those webby leaves off, I was surprised to see that the stalk is green on that end!


Because it sort of reminds me of celery, I expected the rhubarb to be stringy. But it's not. Not even close. These fibers are super thin.


Cutting them into the chunks called for in the next recipe, I couldn't help but admire how pretty rhubarb is.


Since then I came across this website that tells you how to properly prep rhubarb. Actually, it tells you everything you want to know about rhubarb. Honestly, I didn't think mine were stringy at all, but just an FYI.

Let's see what the Larousse Gastronomique has to say:
It was the English who first introduced rhubarb to the kitchen: until the 18th century it was regarded as a medicinal and ornamental plant. With a calorific value of only 16 Cal per 100 g, rhubarb is very sour and must always be sweetened. The leaves contain a large amount of oxalic acid and should not be eaten.

There are many varieties of rhubarb, with stalks ranging from green to varying shades of mauve. The stalks should be firm, thick, and crisp and release sap when snapped. They will keep for some days in a cool place, but quickly become soft, however, rhubarb freezes well.
Rhubarb, available at Grower's Direct by the stalk and priced per pound. I picked up by two stalks weighing in at 0.34 lb for $0.61.

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