Here at Mr Pickles’ Yorkshire Food Emporium we love watching how our fruit and vegetable counter changes with the seasons. It means there’s always something new coming in, or something to look forward to. Which is why we don’t ever mind saying goodbye to the sweet peas and french beans of summer, because we know that we’ll soon be saying hello to the wholesome squash and parsnips of autumn.
And every month holds something new for us and our tastebuds. Yes, even February. Despite the miserable, and often bitterly cold weather, we still have a wide range of fresh seasonal produce in store including celeriac, parsnips, savoy cabbages, cauliflowers and purple sprouting broccoli.
But, as a Yorkshire food shop, it will come as no surprise that it’s the start of the forced rhubarb season that makes February all the more special for us.
Although native to Siberia, rhubarb thrives in the winters of West Yorkshire, and the region once produced 90% of the world’s forced variety. Grown in dark sheds, forced rhubarb is far more tender than that grown outside and this difference has been recognised by the European Commission who has awarded Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb with Protected Designation of Origin status.
Grown to traditional methods, our forced rhubarb is soft and tender with a delicate flavour. The pale green-yellow leaves are a good stamp of authenticity as they are a result of being grown in the dark and with no sunlight.
When it comes to eating, forced rhubarb is very versatile. Slightly sweeter than outdoor grown rhubarb, it’s fabulous in a crumble or pie. Of course, forced rhubarb is also valued for its tart flavour and it’s this that makes it a great accompaniment to rich savoury dishes such as pan fried mackerel and roast pork. Just cook the rhubarb to a puree with water, butter and sugar and serve on the side. Try adding chopped stems to a lamb tagine in place of apricots or to add a little sourness to a warm and earthy lentil curry.
Why not try making a rhubarb cordial? Simply poach stems in water, strain and re-heat with some sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, leave the cordial to chill before adding to water. Alternatively you could add to cocktails –
it works very well when added to sparkling wine or a gin and tonic.
If you like to eat seasonally, why not head to Mr Pickles’ Yorkshire Food Emporium on Abbeydale Road to see what we currently have in store? As well as lots of great fresh produce, we have delicious meat from Firs Farm, cheese from across Yorkshire, bread and milk from Sheffield and lots of indulgent Yorkshire treats.