I’ve recently revived my taste for rhubarb and now seem to be addicted to it… indeed to all produce that is on offer this Spring. It would appear I’ve had an awakening of sorts, after what was for me, a very long and dreary winter.
Growing up on the farm, among the many vegetables and fruits that we grew, Mom always had rhubarb. It seemed to grow in a big cluster… which I can still picture, planted not in one of the many fields, but more conveniently located in a flower bed, right under a kitchen window.
As a kid, I didn’t really dig it. My extent of eating it back then…? Raw, with the cut end dipped in sugar. Tart. Sweet. Crunchy. How we ever came up with that idea, I really can’t say. Maybe it was all we knew. Come to think of it… why did we even grow something that we didn’t know what to do with?? Wait a minute…. Now I remember. Mom would cook it. She would simmer it and make some kind of syrup, which then was morphed into some kind of juice. Ick. That`s what I thought then.
I don’t know why we weren’t aware of the most exquisite pairing of rhubarb and strawberry. Shame really, especially considering we had a massive garden of strawberries that some of us will never forget spending summers in. I am thankful that I still love strawberries. My brother Steve… even years after moving from the farm, couldn’t stand them.
Maybe I could’ve talked him around with something dee-lish made with strawberry and rhubarb. I only say this because he used to also profess that he didn’t care for cranberries. One year at Christmas, I fooled him with my cranberry squares – unintentionally, of course. I’m sure the payback would’ve been brutal, coming from my older brother! So, back to the cranberry squares…. with his usual gusto, he launched into one and said… “hey, not bad. What are these? They taste like date squares…”
Luckily he could not see my face. I’m even laughing now, as I write this!! In all honesty though, they were exactly like a date square, except the filling was made from cranberries. I honestly can’t remember if I told him. I am happy for the memory of this story… long forgotten, but brought back by this writing.
This is very quick and easy to put together. If you do use orange juice, just remember it will really break down the fibre of the rhubarb – which is not necessarily a bad thing. If you want your compote chunkier – just use orange zest and water. I rescued some un-set strawberry freezer jam from a friend, by cooking the rhubarb in it. It was so good, I made it again – this time adding more (frozen) berries. This recipe will make about a cup of compote – enough to generously top six desserts!
4 stalks rhubarb, washed, trimmed of leaves and cut into half-inch pieces
quarter cup of white sugar
quarter cup of water (or orange juice or other liquid of your choice)
one teaspoon orange zest
half teaspoon freshly grated ginger, or dried might also work
a dash of cinnamon would be fantastic
Simmer all together for approximately 15 minutes – it will thicken as it cools.
Store covered in the fridge.
Use to top cake, ice cream, pancakes – anywhere you might enjoy a fresh fruit sauce.
At a recent dinner party, cheesecake with rhubarb orange compote was a big hit!
Rhubarb, some un-set strawberry jam and grated fresh ginger simmering here….
Buttermilk Pancakes with the above compote!!