It’s a part of West Yorkshire’s industrial heritage. There’s a saying – ‘load of old rhubarb’ – meaning what nonsense. Every allotment still has at least one plant.
The stalks are chopped, cooked with sugar and ginger then a dollop of custard added on top for a lazy school pudding. It’s a certain kind of person who can consume that tart, slippery mess – a hungry one!
I’ve always had some in a garden. The leaves are good for pesticide when dunked in water. the stalks freeze rather well, but an instant crumble is best.
I’ve read a little recently about its history in Kew on a Plate with Raymond Blanc. Rhubarb comes from China (as many plants have) and Siberia. It became popular in West Yorkshire and the Victorian era, in London.
There is the tradition of Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb whereby it is grown in sheds in the dark by candlelight. Certainly sparks the imagination!
‘Forced rhubarb plants are shrouded in such an aura of mystery and romance, like fragile prima donnas that have to be handled so gently,’ says Raymond.
We are all stalks in the dark sometimes, growing slowly.
Image from slowfood.org.uk