Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How Long Is Your Rhubarb Season?

fresh rhubarb

It's rhubarb season. Or is it?

I started asking for fresh rhubarb over a month ago, only to be told by market managers, "It's too early." Then this past week I was told, "It's too late. Rhubarb season is over."

So, by my calculation, rhubarb season in Southern California was about two weeks long this year. That's absurd.

It's a good thing I bought rhubarb three times in that two week window. But it wasn't enough for this New England bred gal. When I was a kid, rhubarb season was usually a couple of months long. You didn't have to buy it at the market because half of your neighbors grew it in their yards. I remember going to my great aunt's house where those crimson stalks stood at attention along the side of her house. I'd rip one right of the ground and bite into it like it was a carrot. I'd do it till my eyes watered, my lips went numb, and my belly turned sour. Ah, those were good days.

Nowadays, I have to rush to get my rhubarb fix. And rhubarb should not be rushed.

rhubarb and berry compote
Berry Rhubarb Compote with a dollop of ricotta cheese.

Since my belly isn't as steely as it used to be, I forego raw rhubarb for stewed, sweetened dishes like crumbles, crisps, and compotes. I have made many rhubarb compotes, but this one is special. The rhubarb is tempered by sugar and enhanced by freshly squeezed orange juice, aromatic ginger, and sweet blueberries.

Compotes are best served warm or at room temperature with a dollop of Greek yogurt, vanilla ice cream, mascarpone cheese, or ricotta cheese. If you've got leftovers, then swirl it in your oatmeal, spread it on toast, or just eat it by the spoonful.

Rhubarb season generally runs from April to September. So, I'm curious, what's your rhubarb season like where you live? 

Berry Rhubarb Compote
Makes 4-6 servings
Print recipe only here.

1 pound rhubarb, sliced
1/3 cup sugar, or more depending on the tartness of the rhubarb
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons orange juice, preferably freshly squeezed
The zest of 1/2 medium orange
1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries, quartered or unthawed frozen berries
1/2 pint fresh blueberries or unthawed frozen berries
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1. Place rhubarb, sugar, water, and juice in a medium pot over high heat. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Add zest, berries, and ginger. Lower the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes until the rhubarb is soft but still has some shape. Cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of Greek yogurt, vanilla ice cream, mascarpone cheese, or ricotta cheese.

You might also enjoy these rhubarb recipes from Food Blogga:
Triple Berry Rhubarb Crisp
Strawberry-Rhubarb Calzones
Strawberry-Rhubarb Sponge Pudding
Pork Tenderloin with Indian Spiced Cherry and Rhubarb Chutney

Here are more tasty rhubarb recipes from other bloggers:
Rhubarb Margarita recipe from Andrea's Recipes
Rhubarb Fool recipe from Real Epicurean
Rhubarb Maple Crisp recipe from Whipped
Rhubarb Blueberry Turnovers recipe from Pinch My Salt
Blackberry Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod