Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Talking Rhubarb ....

We live, for our sins presumably, slap bang in the middle of the famous Rhubarb Triangle. What do you mean you've never heard of the Rhubarb Triangle *Tuts*

The Rhubarb Triangle is a nine square mile patch of West Yorkshire famous, yes famous I say, for forced rhubarb. Forcing it to do what puzzled me for a long time until we got our own allotment and inherited the rhubarb plants thereon.

Forced rhubarb is grown in the dark and does it so fast you can hear it (yes, really). Harvested between January and March, it's stalks are more slender and it tastes sweeter than your everyday common or garden outdoor rhubarb. 

And once a year (this weekend coincidentally) the city of Wakefield celebrates it's eminence as the forced rhubarb capital of the world with a festival that celebrates all things rhubarb of which there seems to be an entirely worrying amount. Because, and don't tell a soul (at least not in Wakefield).... Rhubarb is bloody horrible, shhhh. 

Rhubarb is probably best described as an acquired taste but I've not met many people that HAVE acquired it. Apart from my mum who will happily reminisce about halcyon days wandering through the then fields of Wakefield munching on a rhubarb stick dipped in sugar even if, or possibly because, the TeenTwins are pretending to retch in a corner. 

We, though, have ordinary rhubarb on the allotment but it grows indecently quickly and in astonishing quantities apparently impervious to the vagaries of both the weather and inexpert allotment owners AND we have found a use for it. ... We turn it into WINE ! *It's a miracle face*

It's even more of a miracle that, thank all gods, it doesn't even taste like rhubarb (much) and even if it does, you get so drunk, YOU DON'T CARE! *Beams*

It's a simple enough recipe;
Get 3lb of rhubarb, chop up the stalks. NOT THE LEAVES, THE LEAVES ARE POISONOUS 
Get 3lb of sugar. Cover rhubarb with sugar in large bucket, cover bucket. Leave for 24 hours, until sugar has dissolved or until you remember (3 days is the record for us so far). 
Strain off the liquid. Add more water to the remaining sugary rhubarb gloop and strain again. Make up to one gallon with water.
Wonder hopelessly what to do with remaining rhubarb gloop. Consider if it will make a pie. Decide to throw it away.
Add wine yeast and yeast nutrients (available from all good homebrew shops) to your gallon of will-be-eventually-wine and, this is the magic bit, add a crushed Campden tablet so it doesn't taste like it's made out of rhubarb AT ALL.

Then you have to do all the usual wine making things for a while all of which are probably better described on the internet but mostly involve putting the wine in and out of demi-johns and getting inadvertently and horribly drunk while doing so. 

Eventually, you end up with wine. Which you can then bottle and give away to your friends and relatives on special occasions with the words:
 "And we brought you some of the rhubarb wine we made." 
And THEN you can watch their faces drop. 


This is not Rhubarb, this is Roobarb.

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