Along with asparagus, rhubarb is the other first crop in my garden.
Bulbous blossoms form on the plant which I cut off. The blossoms will take away from the growth of the leaves which I plan to harvest. That harvest will last until early to mid-June.
Ceasing to pick the rhubarb for the remainder of the summer will give the rhubarb plants time to recover from the leaves lost in the picking. It strengthens them for survival till the next harvest. My rule of thumb is to stop picking the rhubarb when the strawberries are done bearing.
When the leaf stems have reached an appropriate length I pull the whole stem loose from the plant. I generally have a knife in hand so that I can cut off and discard the huge leaves before returning to my kitchen. The stems measure 10 inches or more when clipped.
I wash and trim the stems, cutting them into 1/2 inch pieces. I freeze them in freezer containers to use another day, or I can make jam, or other yummy rhubarb desserts.
One delicacy I make is Victoria Sauce. I found the recipe in the Ball Blue Book. It is easy to make and is a delicious sauce for eating with meats. It compares with sweet-sour bottled sauces that one finds at the grocery store.
Rhubarb-lovers will like this.
2 quarts chopped rhubarb 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped onion 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-1/2 cups chopped, seedless raisins 1 teaspoon ground ginger
3-1/2 cups brown sugar, packed 1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup vinegar
Combine rhubarb, onion, raisins, sugar and vinegar. Cook until thick, about 25 minuties. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Add spices; cook 5 minutes longer. Pour, boiling hot, into hot Ball Jars, leaving 1/8-inch head space. Adjust caps. Process 10-15 minutes. Yield: about 4 pints.
photo credit: sjdunphy via photo pin cc