In season early winter: Rhubarb
Year-round but at its best from May to August.
Choose rhubarb that has long, firm, brightly coloured stalks. Thick stalks will tend to be more fibrous.
Remove all leaves (these contain oxalic acid and should not be eaten) and store the stalks in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to a week.
Wash rhubarb stalks, then cut into pieces and stew or bake until tender. Rhubarb needs to be sweetened with sugar, honey or orange juice during cooking as it contains very little natural sugar and can taste tart.
Rhubarb will add calcium and fibre to your diet.
To stew rhubarb, slice 2 bunches into 10cm lengths and place into a saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar and cook, stirring, for 10-12 minutes. Then:
- Make rhubarb crumble – add oats, brown sugar, sliced almonds and a little low-fat spread and bake in the oven.
- Use on cereal.
- For an instant dessert, swirl 1-2 tablespoons stewed rhubarb through some low-fat vanilla yoghurt..
- Add to muffins instead of (or as well as) blueberries.
- Add to cakes instead of half the sugar and fat in the recipe.
- Slightly melt a tub of low-fat ice cream, mix in a cup of stewed rhubarb and a teaspoon of ground ginger and re-freeze. Yum!
- Add to trifle instead of berries.
- Mix with chopped banana in a small sealed container and take to work for a snack.
- The classic treat: rhubarb and custard.
Slice 2 bunches rhubarb into 10cm lengths and place in an ovenproof dish. Top with a punnet of halved strawberries and a punnet of raspberries (or frozen berries). Sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar. Add a split vanilla bean. Roast in a moderate oven for 35 minutes, or until tender. Serve with low-fat ice cream.
Slice 2 bunches rhubarb into 10cm lengths and place in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons honey and roast in a 180ºC oven for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Spread on toast.
Make a relish by combining 2 cups chopped rhubarb, 2 cups chopped onion, 2 cups brown sugar, 1 cup white wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon each ground ginger and allspice in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 30 minutes or until soft.