Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rhubarb Rhubarb Rhubarb

Rhubarb is an Interesting Fruit... Vegetable?

I am not sure if rhubarb is a fruit, I suspect that it is really a vegetable. I believe that tomatoes are considered a fruit by botanists, however by agriculturalists -- at least those who are in charge of import, export and shipping type stuff -- they are considered vegetables like most people do when considering their mealtimes.

I shall call it a fruit!

Rhubarb is the first fruit that I ever really experienced that was actually being grown where I lived! We had a huge yard in the city and a huge garden. We did have a crab apple tree, but it kept getting "winter killed" and never bloomed for a long stretch of my childhood and we didn't have any other fruit trees or even berry bushes or plants on our yard. We did have a very strong pair of rhubarb plant roots though!

I recall that we received the plants from an elderly neighbour -- though we were in a very new district -- and rhubarb plants with older large roots produced better rhubarb. Our plants sure were good! As a child we would be allowed to have a stalk each and our friends as well and we were given a cup with sugar on the bottom to use as we ate it. It was fun to leave the great elephant ear like leaves on the stalk as we dipped the end into the sugar and bit off bites of the sour flesh.

In some ways it was an excuse to eat the sugar, but the rhubarb was neat too! Then we were left with the huge 40-50cm across leaves to play with!

I think even better was what Mom did with the rhubarb! She would cut the stalks into 1cm chunks and then cook them down into either a sort of sauce or she would mix it with brown sugar and oatmeal and other stuff to bake into rhubarb crunch and rhubarb crisp... probably rhubarb crumble too, though I don't recall that name. I think Mom also made rhubarb pies and experimented with rhubarb upside-down cake and muffins. The rhubarb sauce would sometimes be made into a jam, I think -- but it has been so very long.

I loved the rhubarb crunch warm from the oven with vanilla ice cream melting over it. I think it really was one of my favourite foods in the world -- next might be apple crisp...

I think that when we moved from that house in Calgary to the West Coast hear in BC we did not have quite so sweet a rhubarb in our garden patches. True later we had strawberry patches, blueberry patches, and raspberry patches. We also had producing crab apple, apple, pear trees and even a hazelnut tree! Mom made what I figure was the World's best crabapple jelly -- red as ruby and clear as glass -- but the rhubarb crunch has a very special place in my heart.

~ Darrell


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