Although native to Siberia, rhubarb thrives in the winters of West Yorkshire where it is grown in dark sheds. And, because it doesn’t see any sunlight, forced rhubarb is far more tender than that grown outside and the difference has been recognised by the European Commission who has awarded Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb with Protected Designation of Origin status.
Our forced rhubarb is supplied by the Tomlinson family who are based in Pudsey. The area is known for its fertile soil and is located within the rhubarb triangle; a 9-square-mile area which is famous for growing forced rhubarb. As the family still use traditional methods to grow the rhubarb, and even carry out the harvest by candlelight, the stalks are soft and tender with a delicate flavour. The anaemic looking pale green-yellow leaves might be a little off-putting, but they’re a good indication that traditional methods have been used as exposure to sunlight would result in dark and thick leaves.
When it comes to eating, forced rhubarb is very versatile. Slightly sweeter than outdoor grown rhubarb, it’s great in desserts. But, it’s also valued for its tart flavour which makes it a great accompaniment to rich and savoury dishes too.
Pork Chops with Rhubarb
Whilst the rest of the world has been eating apple sauce with their pork chops, we’ve been eating Yorkshire rhubarb. The sharp flavours work really well to cut through the fat of the pork, whilst complementing its sweetness. Try pairing cooked rhubarb with mackerel and other oily fish too.
4 Yorkshire pork chops
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
A few sprigs of thyme
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
Salt and pepper, for seasoning
200g fresh Yorkshire forced rhubarb, sliced into chunks
2-3 tbsp of honey
1) Preheat your oven to 190C or Gas Mark 5.
2) Drizzle 1 tbsp of rapeseed oil over the pork chops, season and rub into the meat.
2) Place a large frying pan over a high heat. Once hot, place the chops in to cook for around a minute on each side and until golden.
3) Transfer the chops to an ovenproof dish and tuck the garlic and thyme around them.
4) Place the dish in the oven and roast for around 15 minutes.
5) Take the dish out of the oven and add the rhubarb chunks. Drizzle the honey over and stir to coat everything.
6) Return the dish to the oven for a further 15-20 minutes, whilst occasionally checking and adding a little water to the dish if it looks dry at any point.
7) Once the chops are cooked through and the rhubarb is soft to the touch, serve with roast potatoes or buttery mash.
Yorkshire Fizz with Rhubarb
Try using rhubarb to make a cordial for adding to fizz – the perfect Valentine’s Day cocktail.
300g caster sugar
500g rhubarb, chopped
1) Place the rhubarb in a large pan and add 50mls of cold water.
2) Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer and cook until the rhubarb is soft, ensuring it doesn’t catch and burn at any point.
3) Using a fine sieve and a piece of muslin drain the rhubarb, reserving the liquid. If you have time, place the sieve over a bowl and transfer to the fridge to continue draining overnight.
4) Add 100g of sugar to every 200mls of liquid drained off and add to a pan. Gently warm over a low heat whilst stirring to dissolve the sugar.
5) Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and taste to check the sweetness, adding a little more water or dissolving a little more sugar into the liquid as required.
6) Pour into sterilised bottles and store in the fridge where it should keep for up to a month.
7) To serve, pour 20mls of the cordial into a champagne flute and top up with Yorkshire fizz, adjusting to taste.
Baked Rhubarb Pancakes
Kill two birds with one stone and celebrate celebrate pancake day and rhubarb season in this sweet version of toad in the hole.
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
2-3 stalks of rhubarb
1 tsp vanilla extract
90g plain flour
2 tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Honey and ice cream to serve
1) Preheat your oven to 200C or Gas Mark 6.
2) Add the oil to a medium-sized ovenproof dish and place in the oven.
3) Prepare the batter by whisking the eggs, then whisking the milk and vanilla into the eggs.
4) Add the flour, sugar and cinnamon and stir until well mixed and smooth.
5) Take the dish out of the oven and add the rhubarb, taking care not to splash the hot oil.
6) Pour the batter over the top and return to the oven.
7) Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the batter is golden brown and the rhubarb is cooked through.
8) Serve immediately with a drizzle of honey and a scoop of ice cream.
Recipe adapted from a Canola Oil recipe.