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10 things you didn't know about rhubarb

by Sarah Randell

Rhubarb is a wonderful ingredient - it's brilliant in puddings, pies and crumbles, stewed with yogurt for breakfast and even paired with savoury flavours like mackerel. Here's a few facts that Sarah Randell learnt on her visit to Janet Oldroyd Hulme's rhubarb farm near Wakefield...

For lots more delicious recipes...

... check out Sarah's rhubarb recipes in our March issue including rhubarb ginger shortcake, rhubarb, maple and macadamia crumble, sugar-crusted rhubarb and apple pie, rhubarb raspberry jellies and baked rhubarb with star anise and orange.

1. During the Second World War, rhubarb was eaten raw, dipped in a little sugar – this gave the liquorice industry the idea for the sherbet dip.

2. You thought rhubarb was a fruit? Wrong! It is technically a vegetable.

3. The process of forcing rhubarb was discovered in 1817 at Chelsea Physic Garden in London when workmen covered some rhubarb roots with earth. When they were uncovered a few weeks later, pink shoots had sprouted.

4. As rhubarb bursts into life in the dark forcing sheds, you can hear it 'pop' as the stems break through the sets and start to grow.

5. One cup of rhubarb contains as much calcium as a glass of milk.

6. Stringy rhubarb? The stems have been left too long before picking.

7. Rhubarb has been used for medicinal purposes as far back as 2,700 BC.

8. There are hundreds of rhubarb varieties, but only a handful are grown commercially.

9. Rhubarb only contains around 20 calories per 100g.

10. Rhubarb is high in fibre – outdoor-grown crops more so than forced rhubarb.

Here's a couple more rhubarb recipes

Rhubarb and almond cake

Mark Hix's rhubarb tart

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