At the house where I grew up, behind our makeshift compost bins, was the most abundant rhubarb patch. Long, bright red stalks with forest green leaves flourished in the warm and rich soils of breaking down vegetable matter. A sink full of chopped rhubarb and water was a common sight on a Sunday night. While Mum prepared dinner, strips of ruby red bobbed about in the water, ready to be made into rhubarb crumble for dessert, or stewed rhubarb for our breakfasts, or a spiced rhubarb cake for our lunches.
The rhubarb my parents grow in their current garden is doing well. A single leaf is about the same size as a folded out newspaper and they often break under their immense weight. Most of the stalk is a pale green with small flecks of red. They smell sappy and perhaps of a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
I took three stalks and they sat on my kitchen table for a day or so before I thought what to do with them. A rhubarb and ginger compote; tart and sweet all at once, and then, a soothing heat resonates around your mouth.
This compote took less than ten minutes to make and brightened little bits and pieces all week – with lemon cupcakes, as a topping on thick Greek yoghurt, on crusty sourdough bread like a sloppy sort of jam and atop my morning porridge.
Rhubarb is one thing I can never bring myself to buy; it is a vegetable to grow.
Rhubarb and Ginger Compote
Next time I will double the quantities, three stalks doesn’t make enough to eat out of the jar with a spoon.
3 stalks rhubarb-about 250 grams when chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
a small knob of butter
a thumb size (approx) piece of ginger, peeled and finely grated
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is tender and compote begins to combine, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool. The colour of the compote will vary depending on the colour of the rhubarb.