Since it’s coming to the end of the rhubarb season, I thought it best to give you lot a couple of recipes which include this fabulous vegetable. However, I’ve not always considered it fabulous; in my younger days it was looked upon, by me, as a most contemptible ingredient. To be fair, it is easy to see why, since rhubarb does have an inherently bitter component to its flavour; which is why it’s always cooked with sugar. Luckily, as I’ve grown older my tastes have come to love the tang which accompanies fresh, seasonal rhubarb. The less said about forced rhubarb, the better.
Unfortunately, our rhubarb plant didn’t produce anything this year. We suspect that it resides in rather the wrong part of the garden – its positioning shall be looked into for next year. Still, British rhubarb is very inexpensive at the moment – this batch came from Kent, weighed 450g and cost a mere £1.50. As you can imagine, it would have been rather difficult to pass up such an offer. Indeed, it has to be admitted that the British climate is incredibly conducive to furnishing our gardens and fridges with particularly sweet and juicy fruit. You’ll be glad to know that the strawberries used in this compote, the French word for ‘mixture’, also hail from the South-East of England. I’m sure you’ll see more of those sweet little berries in the very near future!
Bad news, the fruit wielded by our cherry tree has bitten the proverbial dust, a term made famous by the inimitable Queen. A week ago Britain found itself in the throes of an unseasonably hot period of weather and our tree, which vies for its water with a rather wild hedge (which will be done away with), became a little too thirsty. By the time we discovered that the tree’s foliage was in the midst of a ridiculously localised famine, indirect cherry genocide had occurred. It appears as though I shall have to purchase my cherries in order to make my jam – how sad.
Still, at least my rhubarb compote tasted bloody amazing! The key to achieving a good rhubarb compote is to add the sugar little by little, tasting as you go; this allows one to make sure it has a good balance between tangy and sweet. The strawberry and orange also have a hand in achieving this, but they also add a really delicious underlying flavour which supports the rhubarb, rather than disguises it. Enjoy! You’ll soon see what I did with this compote – that just piqued your excitement… right?!
Rhubarb, Strawberry and Orange Compote
Makes one large pot (500-600ml)
• 450g seasonal rhubarb, cut into 1 inch chunks
• 100g strawberries, halved
• 30-50g sugar, depending on the individual
• The juice and zest of 1 orange
1. This is SO simple. All one needs to do is cook down all of the above ingredients, adding the sugar to taste. Use a fairly gentle heat and cook for 5-10 minutes. You want the rhubarb to stay roughly in shape, but be soft enough to eat. The strawberries will break down, though one could add some at the end to mitigate that, if one wants to.
Cost: The entire pot of this compote should set one back no more than £2.20. Which is very cheap indeed, considering this large jar of rhubarb ‘mixture’ will last quite a while. Happily, its flavour goes a very long way.