Rhubarb is one of those “old time” vegetables. My family ALWAYS had rhubarb growing, and I took some roots from the farm when I left, and still have it growing in my garden today. Many people, though, have never eaten the tart plant.
It is probably best known in pies and crumbles, although it can also be made into compotes or mixed with fruit to make jam. Strawberries are it’s most common partner.
The long fleshy stalks grow from rhizomes underground, and it is a perennial plant, coming back year after year with little maintenance. It likes acid soil. The leaves are poisoness, and never used because of the oxalic acid they contain. The Chinese traditionally used rhubarb as a laxative, and from China it was spread along trade routes into the Middle East and Europe. The earliest known crops here in the USA were grown in Philadelphia from seed in the 1730’s. The roots can also be used medicinally, and for making a rich brown dye.
Mostly my mom made strawberry rhubarb pie (my favorite pie). I have used it to make bread, crisps and crumbles. In one of my first cookbooks, a gift from an aunt for high school graduation, I found a recipe called “Fresh rhubarb Roll”…..sliced up rhubarb rolled up jelly roll style in a biscuit like dough, and place in a simple syrup to bake. The biscuit soaks up the syrup, and some of it makes a gooey sweet sauce on the bottom of the pan. The sauce, which with a bit of red food coloring added, gives the whole pan a rosy color. It’s delicious!
As you can see, this page is well worn in my National Grange cook book.
I’ve modified the original recipe slightly, where I use cane sugar rather than white sugar, and instead of butter (I was out once) I like the softness and bit of tartness that sour cream adds to the rolls. I bake with whole grain flours, so very little white flour in my mixing bowl, but often oat, white whole wheat or spelt is used.
I hope you buy some rhubarb when you see it at the farmers market, and try this wonderful plant.
Rhubarb Roll Ups
Combine 1.5 c sugar and 1.c of water in a saucepan, cook 5 minutes to create a simple syrup.
Pour it into a greased oblong baking pan – 7 x 10” works.
3 c flour (white/white whole wheat/ white wheat pastry four or any combination there of)
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
Cut in: 1/3 c shortening
Add: 1 c milk, stir lightly.
Knead a few times on a floured board, then roll out into a 12 inch square (or like me more rectangular).
Brush with melted butter, or with yogurt or sour cream.
Spread over it 3 cups of sliced rhubarb. Roll up jelly roll style, and slice into 1.5” slices. Put cut side down in the pan of syrup.
Bake in 400 degree over 40 minutes, basting with sauce (below)
1 c cut rhubarb
.5 c sugar
2/3 c water
Red food coloring, if desired
Mix altogether in a sauce pan and cook until rhubarb is tender, almost falling apart.