Having returned from Eau Claire with a large bunch of tartness, tonight we will enjoy a freshly baked crisp, topped with newly mixed Crème fraîche and served with Rhubarb Daiquiris. Mom’s patch is overflowing with hefty stalks, so full my harvest went undetected. In contrast, our small cluster of thin stems barely able to support the large triangular leaves struggles. I suspect the ginormous root system of the neighbor’s black walnut to be the unhealthy culprit. While the tree is gone, the natural chemicals genetically designed to give this once deciduous giant an advantage, may still be contributing to unhealthy dirt. After all – who cannot grow rhubarb?
The old wives’ tale declared rhubarb poison after the 4th of July although how a vegetable could or would negatively alter its chemical structure to coincide with a US holiday is a horticultural mystery. In reality and referencing a much more reliable source, the University of Minnesota Agricultural Service, it is best to harvest this vegetable from early spring through the end of June allowing the remainder of the summer growing season to replenish the energy needed to winter over in our harsh northern clime. So while Mom’s rhubarb patch is still tempting me with its verdant leaves, it is best left to rest. Making this my last Rhubarb Crisp of the season.
There are as many rhubarb crisp recipes as there are bakers. This one is tried and true from Mom. The combination of ingredients and ease makes it Richard’s and my favorite summer dessert especially with a dollop of freshly made Crème Fraîche.
Always on the lookout for new rhubarb adventures, there have been summers when I have experimented with rhubarb’s versatility – drinking rhubarb daiquiris or grilling with rhubarb barbeque sauce. May be it is Covid related but for this summer’s baking treats I focused entirely on old favorites: breads, crisps, muffins, and scones.
While my trusted Joy of Cooking, © 1975, only provides seven recipes, Rhubarb Recipes by complied by Jeanne DeMars, © 1991, and Rhubarb Renaissance by Kim Ode published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, © 2012, as part of Our Northern Plate Series each offer hundreds of baking and cooking options.
Whether you have this wonderful plant growing in your yard or you purchase stalks at your local farmers’ market, explore all the delicious treats rhubarb offers but wait until next summer.