VALLEYLOCAVORE: Pioneer Valley, Berkshires, Hudson River Valley
Friday, May 31, 2013
Rhubarb ... the new lemon....
Right now, rhubarb is just about everywhere you look. Although you can still pick rhubarb later in the summer, like most things early on the scene in spring, it loses its flavor after a month or so.
Tart like a lemon, rhubarb is New England's answer to citrus. It's just a matter of getting to the essence of rhubarb. Once you can do that, you'll have a gateway drug to: rhubarb gastrique (La Sauce) for meats, rhubarb shrub (fruit flavored drink) for cocktails, rhubarb (pie) pie with strawberries or 'fool,' clouds of whipped cream laced with rhubarb.
For starters, infuse some vinegar with rhubarb by cooking it down in a one to one ratio. Use a strainer and funnel for best results. And the next step might be to pickle. It is a bit of a commitment ceremony but you well worth it due to an unusual crunch and character of flavor. In winter, you'll be glad you did and have the opportunity, more than once, to say, "Why look, here is my pickled rhubarb." No need for a trip to the store. Rhubarb could be New England's answer to citrus, right there in the ground, right where you left it.