Rhubarb sorbet dessertRhubarb, rhubarb. It’s not rubbish at all, in fact rather tasty when handled well. Here, Nick tells us more about forced rhubarb, what it is and how to work with it to create scrumptious desserts and perfectly balanced savoury accompaniments.

What is forced rhubarb?

Forced rhubarb is rhubarb that has been grown indoors, without sunlight. It tend to be more tender in the raw form and does not take on the pink colour we associate with it. More greeny/orange.

Is forced rhubarb any different to late summer rhubarb?

Yes, late summer rhubarb is grown outdoors and has a much tougher flesh and brighter pink red colour to it. It needs more cooking and more sugar to balance the acidity.

What can we do with rhubarb other than crumbles and compotes?

We make a lovely rhurbarb sorbet by giving the rhubarb a little roast over a cooling rack and then adding sugar and grenadine for colour. We blitz this and churn it to sorbet. My Nan used to make amazing rhubarb triffle, I think the acid in the rhubarb works so well with the custard and cream.

Tips for best cooked rhubarb?

You must peel it. You have to treat rhubarb gently, it will over cook quickly and become stringy, so keep your eye on it. Slice it it into batons and slow poach in a sugar syrup with some juniper – it’s lovely!

You can use rhubarb to accompany savoury dishes too. It works particularly well with liver parfaits providing a nice acidic balance. Serve with some crisp Melba toasts or just the best toasted bread you have to hand – delicious. (As an aside, but just to demonstrate the point, it is a common accompaniment for Fois Gras).

Random rhubarb fact

Yorkshire is home to the Rhubarb Triangle and Yorkshire forced rhubarb has had EU Protected Designation of Origin status since 2010!