The first tender British rhubarb stems arrive in February, adding tart tangy flavour and a splash of pink colour to the winter months.
TART AND TANGY
Champagne rhubarb, one of the earliest crops of British rhubarb is much-loved for its fine flavour and slender pink stems. It's pretty sour though and you'll need a fair bit of sugar to sweeten it up.
By May, rhubarb becomes a darker colour, deepening to maroon by mid-summer - it also develops an even sharper flavour, although that can be easily sorted out by adding more sugar. These sturdy summer stems make great chutney, and are superb for making into fruit fools.
IN THE KITCHEN
Choose firm stems with fresh leaves. Before cooking, trim the base and leafy tops. Sturdier stems could need scraping with a vegetable knife to remove tough outer skin and fibres.
If you want rhubarb to keep its shape, the best way to cook it is by baking. Cut the stems into manageable lengths, and arrange in a roasting tin. Sprinkle with lots of sugar and add a dash of water. Cook, uncovered at 180C/gas 4 for about 20-30 minutes.