A load of luscious old rhubarb.

I want rhubarb.  Since I came across the great blog Caramelize Life, I have been craving the stuff. I came across this post completely by chance, and Methowmama’s gorgeous recipe for rhubarb sauce got me salivating for my favourite fruit vegetable……. edible plant stem (I’ve never quite worked out whether it counts as a fruit, a vegetable or an alien life form, but I love the stuff). My childhood was marked by those beautiful purply-pink stalks and huge leaves. Rhubarb takes me back to that time where you rode life’s train rather than driving it, back when you kicked off your shoes and asked what was for dinner. When I used to watch a cartoon called “Roobarb and custard” on T.V. When my dad laughed during the BBC news and said “what a load of old rhubarb”. Yep, we can safely say that rhubarb rocked my childhood.

As an adult, I found my ultimate rhubarb heaven in the Alsace region of France: rhubarb grew everywhere, and for ten years, I shamelessly scoffed my way through pounds of the stuff when it was in season, then squirrelled it away in the freezer for ceremonious, special-occasion rhubarb-desserts to cheer us up during winter.

When we moved down to the South of France, I desperately hunted for my favourite stalks at the market, but my request was met with shrugging Gallic shoulders.  In the supermarkets, my failure was as dismal as when I tried to find Roquefort cheese, foie gras and rabbit in a Florida Wallmart 12 years ago. The only rhubarb I once found was thin, droopy and fibrous, hiding at the bottom of a crate. In comparison to the butch, chunky rhubarb I’d been accustomed to in the past, it was undeniably a flop, in every sense of the word.

The humble rhubarb had become unattainable. I  have since resigned myself to buying it frozen, and am currently impatient to see hubby arrive, any minute now, with some frozen rhubarb. I will be throwing myself at it to make my all-time favourite: rhubarb crumble. It’s a simple English pudding that sticks warmly to your insides and glues a smile on your face for hours afterwards. It’s even more fabulous with a generous dollop of custard, or a scoop of vanilla icecream.

For those who are interested, here is the recipe…. with a special thought for Methowmama, the blogger who, from somewhere out there in cyberland, managed to jettison me into the rhubarb addict’s equivalent of cold turkey.


Cut around ten stalks of rhubarb into thumb-sized pieces. Put in a pan, then add sugar to taste (between 50g and100g (2-4 oz), depending on how sweet your tooth is…) and a drop (3-4 tablespoons) of water. Simmer gently until the rhubarb is just cooked (cook too long at your peril, unless you like baby food). Put into relatively deep buttered, oven-proof dish.

In a bowl, rub 100g /4oz cold butter into 150g/6 oz of flour. Then gently mix in 100g /4oz of sugar (I prefer demerara sugar, but any sugar will do), and add a little powdered ginger if you like it; cinnamon is also an alternative. Sprinkle this mixture over the rhubarb. Put into the oven (thermostat 4, 180°C, 350°F) and cook for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the rhubarb bubbles gently around the sides 🙂 . Eat warm, with additional calories such as custard or vanilla icecream. In the unlikely event of leftovers…. it’s great cold too!

Bon appetit!

15 thoughts on “A load of luscious old rhubarb.

  1. OH yum. Fantastic writing ~ so fun to read! Thanks for the references too. We have some rhubarb muffins in the oven right now:) I still have frozen bagged rhubarb in the freezer and will use it to make this delicious looking desert, thank you! It’s a wonderful use of the non-freshy barb any time of year. I look forward to more sharing:) Can’t wait to eat this….cheers! Georgina (Methow Mama) @ Caramelize Life (http://caramelizelife.com/)

    • Thanks, Georgina. You have no idea how coming across your blog affected my week, I was soooo desperate for rhubarb all of a sudden 🙂 I’ll be checking on the muffin recipe and trying it out, hubby arrived tonight with a big bag of purple heaven. Let me know if you tumble for the crumble…. All the best, Joanna (alias multifarious meanderings).

  2. yeuh… Si tu veux, je peux voir avec Carter qu’il te prépare un plant que tu pourras ramener et planter dans ton jardin ;D

      • Pour l’instant ça s’annonce pas top 😦
        En fait, c’est un tubercule du coup, ça risque d’être un peu plus compliqué car pas de bouture possible…
        Pour l’instant il va te garder les graines, ça fera déjà un premier essai, et de mon côté je vais me renseigner en jardinerie si on peut encore en acheter 🙂

      • Aha. Si Carter le dit, c’est que c’est vrai. S’il est aussi fort en rhubarbe qu’en réparation miraculeuse de voitures…. Tiens-moi au jus (de rhubarbe, de préférence….)

  3. Tu peux toujours essayer d’en planter … mais je connais d’autres amateurs de rhubarbe qui habitent dans le sud et qui n’ont jamais réussi à faire pousser plus que 3 tiges malingres.
    Y’a pas de secret il faut du froid et de l’eau pour cette plante. D’ailleurs j’en ai jamais vu autant qu’en Angleterre !
    Joanna, il faut bien se rendre à l’évidence … on ne peut pas tout avoir !!!
    Partout où nous pourrons vivre nous 2, il nous manquera toujours un truc.
    Je veux du ☼ !!!

  4. K-ro is going to try to find me a super-strength Alsace plant, trained by Carter to resist bootcamp conditions in the South of France. I will take care of it with gallons of water, in the hope of getting homegrown rhubarb and abandoning those supermarket bags….. You’re right that we will never find the ideal place for our two families to live; you want the sun, I want the rhubarb!

  5. Merci! Thank you for sharing Caramelize Life with your readers, and so glad you are enjoying rhubarb again. I loved hearing about your adventures in France, my family enjoyed living in the Chamonix valley a couple of years ago after several trips to visit friends all over we couldn’t help but stay for a bit, only part now is we want to be in two places at once!
    Loved your post and enjoyed its depth.

    Rachelle @ Caramelize Life

  6. I loved this sentence:
    Rhubarb takes me back to that time where you rode life’s train rather than driving it, back when you kicked off your shoes and asked what was for dinner.
    What a beautiful turn of phrase!
    Your whole post is beautiful and you’ve just given me the worst rhubarb withdrawal symptoms imaginable!!! In Italy the situation is so bad that even when you ask people for it in Italian, they don’t know what the word means. “Is that a type of fish?” somebody once asked me.
    Rhubarb crumble has to be one of the best foods ever invented – and should be served with an artery-clogging dollop of clotted cream in my opinion!

    • Hello! I went for a wander around your blog and admired the Italian wiring pics. We have similar balconies for suicide case here in the south of France. Sending you good rhubarb vibes as I write. Rhubarb withdrawal at distance is particularly nasty; I feel for you and feel very guilty to be responsible. Thanks for popping by, please come back (please please please…).

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