Like tomatoes are technically a fruit, rhubarb is technically a vegetable, although often mistaken for a fruit due to the abundance of baking and dessert recipes. The culinary use of rhubarb gained popularity 200 years ago but has been used medicinally for 5,000 years.
Rhubarb grows all year round but rises in popularity in the winter months when it comes into its own in warming puddings.
Stewed or roasted rhubarb is the gift that keeps on giving. Play around with flavour combinations: rose and vanilla, orange blossom and cinnamon, or ginger and star anise. Then use it in muffins, cakes, frangipane tarts, or to top warming porridge.
Pair rhubarb with white chocolate, butterscotch, and coconut. Floral fragrances including lavender, rose and vanilla balance out the tartness of rhubarb.
Brew a batch of vibrant rhubarb syrup to use as a base for cocktails. Balance the sweetness with a squeeze of winter citrus and garnish with thyme leaves.
Serve grilled pork chops with a finely diced rhubarb salsa, or thinly shave rhubarb with fennel and radish, drizzle over a vinaigrette and serve as a crunchy winter side salad.
Puree roasted rhubarb, fold into labneh and use under roasted baby carrots or braised lamb.
Rhubarb is easy to grow in cool climates, and growers, although few and far between, are generally found south of Auckland stretching down the country.