Thursday, October 27, 2005


"A square egg in a dish of lentils won't make a marrow bend with the wind, nor will it make rhubarb grow up the milkmaid's leg." (Les Dawson)

A breakfast companion through last winter was a weekly batch of stewed rhubarb. In autumn my friend disappeared but this week was back bigger than ever, at my favourite organic stall at Vic Market. And when I say ‘bigger than ever’ I mean it – fine stalks over a metre long. “Bring me home,” they whispered. So I did.

I call it stewed rhubarb because that’s what it was at home. Even now my parent’s garden has been converted to lawn, the hardy rhubarb plants guard the perimeter of what once was lush with corn, strawberries, beans, parsley and other delights I can only just remember. Mum stews me up some everytime I visit. Without such a patch at my fingertips it is now a luxury, a dish so mighty we can elevate it to compote status.

Rhubarb compote with roses and other pleasures

Clean rhubarb, top, tail and pull off any outer stringy bits if they are tough.

Chop into 3-4 cm lengths (or whatever takes your fancy). Put in just enough water to cover the bottom of a heavy based pan.

If you have apples (I did, some pink lady’s) peel, chop and add. Pears are ok or sultanas are another favourite.

I threw in a few organic strawberries – just for the hell of it.

Add sweetener of choice. Today it was a generous dollop of rice syrup. I love it, it’s sweet without being overwhelming.

Cook on a very low heat, covered, stirring frequently.

Cooking time depends on the size and amount of your fruit. This lot took about 15-20 minutes.

When almost cooked, taste to see if it needs a bit of sugar to get the right balance of tart and sweet. I like to still taste a hint of acid but not enough to feel as if the enamel is being stripped from my teeth. Add a splash of rose water. Stir. Cover. Turn off the heat and let it stew, err compote, a while.

Warm, sweet, tart, rosey, delicious.

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Blogger Brownie said...

'I like to still taste a hint of acid'
...that would be the oxalic acid. same as in spinach and red wine and chocolate. all things in moderation and kidney stones will be avoided.

rhubarb crumble with thick cream on top .........yummo.

10:18 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

most of the oxalic acid is in the leaves, which are generally regarded as toxic

8:03 am  

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