What colour can beat it ? The bright pink stems of forced Yorkshire rhubarb are second to none. We can offer the first of the season, picked from the dark forcing sheds of the Yorkshire Triangle – a small area and microclimate that has specialised in this crop since the Second World War.
Forced rhubarb is a distinct crop to outdoor rhubarb, which is grown in the field. This high-end ingredient is grown in forcing sheds: dark, warm spaces which trick the plants into thinking it is spring and time to grow.
The technique is laborious. Rhubarb roots are grown in the field then dug up and moved to the forcing sheds, where they are packed tight together in the darkness. The darkness and warmth triggers them to grow – fast! You can actually hear the buds unfurl with a squeaking sound. The season for Yorkshire forced rhubarb runs until Spring. It holds the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin).
Uses in the Kitchen
Gently poached in a spice sugar syrup, forced rhubarb is a beautiful element on a dessert plate. You can also bake the stems in a oven, with orange zest and a splash of the juice. It can also be cooked sous vide. Shaved into spaghetti-like strands it looks particularly impressive.
Try rhubarb as a layer in a cheesecake, where the colour contrasts beautifully. This ingredient also works well in jellies and sorbets. Chefs are increasingly using rhubarb for savoury dishes, where the acidity is a lovely foil for mackerel, pork and duck.