Taste the Local Difference says that rhubarb is in season. They note that rhubarb is high in Vitamins A and C, calcium and fiber and that one cup of diced rhubarb contains about 26 calories. It’s often called the “pie plant and for centuries, the dried root of the plant was used for healing purposes and so prized that Russian czars had a state monopoly over “crown” rhubarb. The leaves of rhubarb contain oxalic acid and are unsafe to eat in quantity (so don’t).
Whenever I hear rhubarb, I think about strawberry-rhubarb pie and also baseball announcers saying we’ve got a real rhubarb on the diamond”. I wondered about that (because that’s apparently what i get paid to do) and found the best explanation of the origins of that slang and a whole ton more about rhubarb at everything2.com:
Today a rhubarb is synonymous with melees and free for alls, but in Shakespeare’s day when a play called for a crowd scene, the director gathered an assembly of actors and had them noisily mutter something akin to “Rhu-bar-bar, rhu-bar-bar ,rhu-bar-bar, which reverberated through the theatre like the sounds of an angry horde. ” Try it. I’ll bet you sound pretty threatening, especially if you’ve got a couple of friends with you. From this “rhubarb” eventually came to be theatrical slang for “commotion.” Rhubarb meant ‘to make crowd noises’, and actors who did it were called “rhubarbers.” This standard stage practice then became a verb “rhubarbing”, eventually “rhubarb” came to mean, “fight.”
I think we were talking about rhubarb as food, though, so here’s a recipe for Lizzy’s Rhubarb Bread from MyNorth.com:
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 2/3 cup oil
- 1 egg
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 cups finely diced rhubarb (or more to taste)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup chopped nuts
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix together all bread ingredients. Pour into two 6-inch greased and floured loaf pans. Before baking, mix together and sprinkle topping over batter. Bake at 325 °F for 40 to 60 minutes or until an inserted broom straw [or toothpick] comes out clean. Makes two 6-inch loaves.
For all things rhubarb visit the rhubarb compendium website…
On the photo above, Stefan writes: My grandparents do almost everything together. They’re inseparable and an unstoppable team when it comes to making rhubarb pie.