Rhubarb is a very old plant with records dating back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC) in China where it was cultivated for medicinal purposes (used as a laxative and treatment for high fever). It was imported along the Silk Road and reached Europe in the 14th century. In 16th century England, rhubarb first became known for its medicinal value. Did you know that rhubarb is usually considered to be a vegetable?  However, in the US, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. Thus a reduction in taxes paid! Rhubarb provides a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and calcium.

Serves 8

adapted from Woman & Home magazine

12-14 rhubarb stems
juice of half an orange
2 – 3 tablespoons orange blossom honey

275g (9 1/2 oz.) butter at room temperature
225g (8oz.) flour
100g (4oz.) ground almonds
175g (6oz.) sugar

Preheat oven to 375f (190c). Cut rhubarb into 2-inch chunks and put into a large ovenproof dish. Mix together the orange juice and honey and pour over the rhubarb. To make the crumble, rub the butter into the flour to form crumbs and add the almonds and sugar. Scatter over the rhubarb and bake 30 to 40 minutes until golden.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: Choose pink or red rhubarb as green will be quite sour.  If you see rhubarb with curly leaf tops then this is known as forced rhubarb.  It is grown in hothouses where the stalks are forced to shoot up looking for light which produces a sweeter and tender rhubarb. Rhubarb pairs well with other fruits and berries like apples, strawberries and blackberries. Use it to make a sweet and sour chutney to serve with chicken or pork; or stew it with a little sugar and fresh ginger and serve over ice cream.