Wednesday, May 26

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

45 comments:

Jessica @ How Sweet said...

The compote looks delicious. I actually have never had rhubarb and I can't even find it in my stores. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough. ;)

Girl Foodie said...

A couple of my So Cal friends have also complained of not being able to find it. We start getting forced rhubarb from Yorkshire as early as March, for those of us who are impatient. We're probably nearing the end of our season here, but we English are HUGE rhubarb fans, so it's plentiful if the shops throughout Spring. I have made a few desserts already and am doing another rhubarb and apple crumble tomorrow.

This compote looks gorgeous. I'd love that with some whipped cream and meringue, like an Eton Mess. YUM!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I better get out there and buy some rhubarb before it's too late - and make this delicious looking compote.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Rhubarb season is short. we can find it from the end of April till the middle of June.

A lovely compote!

Cheers,

Rosa

Happy Cook said...

Wowo that looks so so good , love that bright colour. Here I have seen them for the last 2 weeks, but I am stil waiting for getting them from my aunt which she grows in her veg garden, nobody use it there but her hubby grws it for the fun :-)

The French said...

I had no idea that I'd missed it either. Dang! I'll see if I can't hunt some down and try this compote. Love the addition of ricotta:)

RamblingTart said...

Now I'm nervous! I need to ring my Mums to see if they still have rhubarb growing! :-) I love the ricotta dollop - that would be just perfect. :-)

Joanne said...

Yeah rhubarb season lasts until late june here (NYC)...I'm sorry. But your strawberry season is way longer than ours! Actually your season for most delicious things is way longer than ours. I love the looks of this compote. Given my current Greek yogurt obsession, it seems necessary that I make this!

ames said...

I'd give you some of mine if I could, I have 18 plants and am just swimming in it!! I've also harvested it well into late summer in the past, with the only maintenance being to stop it before it goes to seed and to clean out the excess when they get too full. Maybe that was out of season but it never really tasted different...

Maria said...

I love rhubarb season. I can't get enough. Love your photos and the compote looks delicious.

Katie @ goodLife {eats} said...

I've had rhubarb in my garden since mid march (New Mexico) and last year it was still growing and doing well until September. I am loving the rhubarb! Made this last weekend:

Lemon Cloud Tart with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
http://www.goodlifeeats.com/2010/05/lemon-cloud-tart-with-strawberry.html

Stacy (Little Blue Hen) said...

My Midwestern mother just about fell off her chair when I told her how much rhubarb costs here. People give sacks of it away on Freecycle in Minnesota! I'm planning on freezing some rhubarb for a crisp this summer and hope to find some while we're back home this weekend.

Goody said...

Rhubarb used to be plentiful here, but the last few years it has been difficult to find, and expensive. We seem to get two seasons-late winter greenhouse forced rhubarb, and then the real stuff now.My mother always had a couple plants-I really don't know why I've never planted any.

I made some rhubarb cordial to enjoy the rest of summer, but I think I'd better hunt down a few more stalks to freeze.It does freeze rather well.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

jessica-Never? We have got to rectify that. Quickly!

girlfoodies-You are so right. The Brits have a way with rhubarb to be envied! Rhubarb and apple crumble? Mmmm... that sounds scrumptious!

linda-Hurry!

rose-That sounds about right to me.

happycook-Everything always tastes better when it comes from a garden of someone you love. Enjoy!

thefrench-Let me know if you score some!

ramblingtart-Good luck! I'm sure Mum saved you some. :)

joanne-Yeah, we do have a really long strawberry season. But I've got to grumble about something. ;)

ames-That's rhubarb gluttony! ;) You must be swimming in jams and jellies too!

maria-Thank you, my dear!

katie-Oh, you are so lucky! And your "cloud" dessert sounds heavenly. :)

stacy-I know! I paid $4.99/lb last time. Eat it up when you visit your mom. Safe travels!

Stacey Snacks said...

.....not long enough.
as of last week, not a stalk left in the NJ markets!
boo hoo. I love rhubarb.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

goody-A rhubarb cordial? That must be fabulous!

Chris said...

Rhubarb post day! :) Great minds, my friend. Your compote looks great! I still have some left from my batch, and this may just be how I use it. I love that it is still yummy at room temp. Hot/cold temperatures have become a bit of an issue for me as I get older. hmmmm...

Johanna GGG said...

rhubarb season is a mystery to me - it seems to be in the markets in autumn and winter here but not in the northern hemisphere - at least it is one fruit i can share seasonally with the top half of the world

bellini valli said...

I remember sitting in my neighbours garden with my gal pals with a sugar bowl in one hand and rhubarb in the other.

Ivy said...

Glad to hear from you after such a long time. Rhubarb grows in Nothern Greece but there isn't enough to make it to Athens and unfortunately have only tried it in syrup.
BTW mahalebi is not connected with mahleb.

The Italian Dish said...

I love all your rhubarb recipes. I'll have to try this one. We still have rhubarb right now in MIchigan.

Kevin said...

Susan,
Rhubarb season seemed to come early this year and only last three weeks. But I did have it three times including this recipe. It's better than strawberry/rhubarb pie.

Nicole said...

Our Rhubarb season arrives late in Fairbanks. My first harvest will be this weekend. Once it gets going it won't stop until things freeze up in September. I have several huge plants around our property. I use as much as I can fresh then freeze as much as I can to fill up the freezer around the blueberries, cranberries, and raspberries and finally give the rest away. The giving away can be challenging as everyone seems to have plenty of the stuff, it is kind of like zucchini here. Unfortunately, we don't get much in the way of strawberries though.

Leah said...

I find the topic of rhubarb very frustrating! I was raised in the midwest and would eat the stuff right out of the ground like you did. Now I live in Los Angeles and can't find it anywhere (even frozen). I did manage to find a few limp stalks at Whole Foods a couple of weeks back, but nothing since then. I guess I'll have to start freezing my own (if I ever find it again!).

Heather said...

I grew up in upstate ny and we grew rhubarb in our backyard. Well...it grew on it's own, it was there before my parents ever moved in.

Now I'm in San Diego and I went looking for fresh rhubarb last weekend and Whole Foods was all out, Trader Joes had none, and nor did Ralph's (that's not as much of a surprise). But whole foods does have frozen rhubarb if you're in a pinch. I bought all my ingredients for a strawberry rhubarb tart, only to find that there was no fresh rhubarb to be found. I made it with frozen, and it was still really great.

Anna@Tallgrass Kitchen said...

We have months here in Wisconsin - thank goodness, because there isn't much else to work with except for asparagus and wild ramps. Luckily it is such a versatile vegetable. The compote looks lovely - a nice addition to all of the custards, cakes, ice pops and more we've been downing here!

Jacqueline said...

I love rhubarb Susan and make sure I freeze plenty while it is still in season. Your compote looks divine :)

lisaiscooking said...

I don't think rhubarb grows locally here, and I usually only find it in grocery stores for a short two week period in early spring. Your compote looks fantastic with ricotta!

Michelle @ Find Your Balance said...

Rhubarb was all over the market this week in Boston but i'm not sure how long it lasts... in any case I like seeing recipes using it that aren't the usual pie :-)

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Normally I wouldn't even have the answer, but I'm told there is a "rhubarb experiment" underway at my CSA. As a willing lab participant, I'll let you know what I find out!

Cassandra said...

Over here in Southern England, our rhubarb season seems to last all summer (or it certainly can anyway). We have a couple of plants in our garden, and we took thr first harvest last week. We should be able to keep taking it until it's too cold for it to grow. I can't imagine not having rhubarb easily available.
We're attempting to force some this year, by placing a bucket over them. But they grow so big (well, over half a metre anyway) that they push the bucket off the ground. When I get my own home I'm definitely planting some rhubarb.

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The Teacher Cooks said...

This compote looks divine especially with the ricotta. And rhubarb?? I did not know it really existed. I just read about it and saw photos in magazines. A few years back it started appearing in my grocery. I still have not tried it. Yours looks tempting!

We Are Not Martha said...

I didn't realize rhubarb season was so short either! This looks completely amazing and so, so pretty!!

Sues

Gisela said...

I live in San Diego and grow my own rhubarb. I am constantly begging my friends to take some, it grows almost all year long! I can harvest a pound a week between February and September. It does seem to freeze well, too (which I tell people so they'll take more!). My favorite recipe is actually a persian rhubarb stew with lamb and lots of cilantro and parsley, it's very tart and tangy.

You are very welcomed to have some of my rhubarb! It's so big it's shading my pumpkin plants!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

I've still got rhubarb growing, but I'm not sure how to tell when the season is over. Does it go bad? Does it stop growing?

Sweet Harvest said...

Here in Ontario (Canada) our rhubarb season is actually pretty long if you take into account our ‘forced’ greenhouse varieties which we will start seeing around January. Our outdoor variety however we will see from about May until about the end of June. The sad part of that story is that this recipe (which I would love to try) calls for blueberries which we won’t see around here until July :( Our strawberries will be out here in about two weeks so I will keep my fingers crossed that we may get some crossover at the farmers market between the rhubarb, strawberries and blueberries. I love the idea of the blueberries and rhubarb.

Dragon said...

I've just recently cooked with this amazing ingredient. Your compote looks amazing!

Sophie said...

A stunning dessert!!


MMMMMMMMMM,....

Lynda said...

I completely agree with you regarding the shortness of the rhubarb season here in CA. In the cooler, wetter climates of New England and Northern Europe, rhubarb reigns in the garden for months.

silvertoes said...

In B.C., our season for picking, runs from March until the end of July.
It's by choice that I don't pick after that,to let the plant build up strength for next year's bumper crop from the remaining stalks that last until first frost..in Oct?

I happen to have a rhubarb upside down cake in the oven as I type. The nutmeg aroma is heavenly!

Maija Haavisto said...

In Finland the rhubarb season is from June to August I think, perhaps September? I don't think it has started yet. I'm just waiting for it to start, I have several recipes lined up.

Pille said...

Here in Estonia the rhubarb is the first "fruit" to arrive in early May, and the season lasts until midsummer. It's not recommended to eat rhubarb after that, as the acid levels will be too high. (And I suspect, Maija, that the rhubarb seasons in Estonia and Finland coincide, so you should rush to nearest market NOW, if you still want to cook something) :)
Susan - the colour of that compote is stunning!!!

fraukatrin said...

In Germany, the Rhubarb Season ends on the same date as the white asparagus season ends: On the day of St. Johannis, which is the 24th of June.
But it only ends to strengthen the rhubarb for the next season.
With the last Rhubarb I made a Liquor. I´m really looking forward to drink it in August...

Christine said...

Hi susan, Checking in from far northern CA where rhubarb is growing in my garden at this very moment. It doesn't get very big, nor the stalks very long, but it does grow year-round. As others have said, I think it does well in cooler weather. I think retailers stick with a "strawberries and rhubarb season" then don't try to order it after that. If demand kept up, I bet supply would also. IMHO. Beautiful compote!!

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