Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

strawberry rhubarb compote

Can we all agree to stop apologizing for rhubarb? No one apologizes for recipes that call for things like squid, marshmallow-flavored vodka, and green peppers. In fact, some times those things are actually celebrated rather than reviled. So I don’t know why rhubarb, the humble plant that springs to life after a long winter, is the recipient of occasional derision. But it’s time to stop.

Tulips in the Rain

I was wandering through a neglected garden in the countryside a few weeks ago, where not much was growing in the spring drizzle, except a few dewy tulips poking through. But right in the thick of things was a resplendent rhubarb plant, which saved the day. In the grand tradition of French “gleaning”, I yanked the stalks out of the ground, brought them home, and made a compote out of them. Free food? What’s not to like about that?

just-picked rhubarb batons of rhubarb

Rhubarb is quite tart and we had a plant in our neighborhood growing up, where we’d dip the raw stalks in sugar and munch on them as kids. Nowadays folks often ask me if they can reduce the sugar in things, including recipes, and you are more than welcome to here. Although just a head’s up that rhubarb does take more than you think, which is why I add some honey. It’s sweeter than sugar but adds a nice background flavor. You can use the smaller or larger amount, or adjust the sugar to your taste by using less than indicated, then adding more at the end.

strawberries

Don’t like ginger? Try a cinnamon stick or two, some cloves and a few strips of lemon peel, or a few crushed allspice berries in the syrup instead.

strawberry

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
About six servings

I’m often asked about reducing sugar in recipes. So here, I’ve used that absolute minimum, which makes for a somewhat tart and tangy compote. But you can taste and add a little more honey after the rhubarb is cooked, to sweeten it to your liking.

In lieu of the ginger, you can opt for a vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or some of the spices suggested above. For those avoiding alcohol, replace it with unsweetened apple juice.

  • 1 ¼ cups (310 ml) water
  • 1 ¼ cups (310 ml) dry or sweet white wine
  • 5 slices (15 g) fresh ginger, unpeeled
  • ½ cup (100 g) sugar
  • 1/3-1/2 cup (100 - 160 g) honey
  • 2-pounds (1 kg) rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 3-inch batons, about 1/2 –inch wide
  • 1 pound (450 g) strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • optional: 1 teaspoon kirsch, or another eau-de-vie

1. In a large, nonreactive saucepan, heat the water, wine, ginger, sugar, and honey (use the smaller amount if you think you might want it less-sweet – but my guess is you’ll want it all.)

2. When all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is simmering, add the rhubarb and let the rhubarb cook in the simmering syrup until it’s just softened, which may take as little as 5 minutes, depending on the rhubarb. Remove from heat and add the strawberries and the eau-de-vie, if using. When cool, pluck out the ginger slices.

Serve warm or room temperature. The compote goes great with Vanilla Ice Cream and Gingersnaps, or as a breakfast treat with yogurt and granola.

strawberries for compote

96 comments

  • Saw a recipe for strawberry rhubarb pate de fruits somewhere recently – but this compote is an easier and faster fix, thank you!

  • The vanilla ice cream suggestion is caaaaallllling me! or else a classic jelly roll…which one??? Maybe a jelly roll style ice cream cake? my god, that could be genius.

  • Oooh this looks yummy. I wouldn’t mind that with a bit of shortbread on the side. Delicious!

  • Rhubarb can be mouth-puckeringly sharp. Adding ginger preserved in sweet syrup (chopped small and including the syrup) is another way of adding both sweetness and flavour – slightly more delicate than fresh ginger. We tend to use both preserved and fresh ginger and so get the best of both worlds.
    Rhubarb compote served with thick Greek yoghurt and shortbread is a quick but luxurious dessert.

  • Now living close to the ‘golden triangle’ of the UK – where rhubarb grows extremely well – I have come to understand that there are different varieties of the vegetable. In fact, we now grow both in our garden. The champagne rhubarb is the sweeter and more fragrant variety with thinner stalks (of course!). Champagne rhubarb really can be dipped in sugar and eaten raw. The other stuff, which is more robust, is the kind that needs an awful lot of sugar to become delicious. I make a similar compote – I find the addition of a small pinch of salt helps when reducing the sugar content, a trick my mother taught me.

  • When I lived in Canada, a friend gave me a bunch of rhubarb and I found a recipe for rhubarb custard pie which was the best pie I ever tasted! I now live in south Texas and occasionally see rhubarb in the grocery store and tried to cook with it but it doesn’t taste the same as the rhubarb that came out of my friends garden in Canada….

    • There are different kinds of rhubarb, including hothouse and field-grown. Some are more tart than others (hothouse is often sweeter), some cook quickly. Others, not so fast. I prefer field-grown as well, which is often redder than the hothouse. But like most fruits and vegetables, each one is different.

  • Oh I love Rhubarb any way it comes, that earthy yumminess. Also great for breakfast with Natural thick Greek yoghurt. I am going to make this for my morning porridge! I cook it with no water just some sugar and the rhubarb juices. I sometimes add some orange zest and juice. Thank you for this great looking recipe.

  • Sadly, I haven´t seen rhubarb around here in the last few years. I read somewhere that the leaves are toxic.. I wonder who was the poor that first realized that!

  • I love the idea of combining the rhubarb compote with yogurt and having it for breakfast. Thank you for sharing! Now if only I could come across some rhubarb in a neglected garden somewhere …

  • Regarding toxicity: Yes, the rhubarb leaves contain much higher concentrations of oxalic acid than is found in the rhubarb stalks, such that the leaves are actually toxic. Oxalic acid interferes with absorption of vitamin C. And the oxalic acid doesn’t taste very good either, so we don’t eat the rhubarb leaves, but we do enjoy the stalks!
    By the way, cooking the rhubarb breaks down the oxalic acid, and then it no longer interferes with C absorption.

  • Have just realized that the “rhubarb sauce” my aunt used to make when I was little was actually a compote. Whatever the name, it was delicious.

    My favorite thing of all with rhubarb — and there’s never enough in any one season to do all the things one wants — is a crumble. The sweet tart rhubarb with the warm, crisp, buttery crumbs on top is just divine. The temptation is to top with whipped cream or ice cream but, for me, that dilutes the glory of the rhubarb/butter/sugar goodness.

    ‘scuse me, I’ve got to go clean the drool of my keyboard.

  • What did I do to trigger the moderation filter?

  • I love rhubarb but am allergic to strawberries. So many rhubarb recipes include strawberries and I am not sure how to modify the recipes to omit them. Do I need to adjust the sugar content or can I just leave them out? Any suggestions?

    • Sure, you can leave them out or add cherries or raspberries – cherries will need to cook longer than the rhubarb, so I would cook them in the syrup first, then add the rhubarb when they are close to soft.

  • I have made this three times in the last 3 weeks, using 1 1/2 times the “topping”. It is gorgeous – like stained glass or a mosaic on top. Also delicious.
    http://www.marthastewart.com/344240/rhubarb-upside-down-cake or http://www.simplyscratch.com/2011/06/marthas-rhubarb-upside-down-cake.html

  • Ah, rhubarb… I miss it! Any chance on scoring some in Italy? I have never, ever seen it here (wild or for sale)….

  • I think ramps deserve more derision than poor old rhubarb. Don’t get me wrong ramps are delicious but I cannot see another ramp frittata recipe…

    And I’ve had rhubarb with many additions but never ginger! I love ginger in everything and it would definitely add an edge to the compote, what a nice idea.

  • Apologize for rhubarb? If it wasn’t for rhubarb, I’d think I was living in Narnia. During the May snows, the rhubarb faithfully came up bringing me hope. Thanks for another lovely way to use this welcome sign of spring.

    • A few years ago, I saw a video of a cooking episode from a morning tv show in America where a cookbook author started baking a pie and the first thing the host said was, “I hate rhubarb!” .. then proceeded to go on a long, long spiel about it, all the time she was making her pie. It was shown to me as an example of how a cooking episode on tv can go wrong. It was kind of funny, but I felt kind of bad for the author because the show’s host would simply not give up. (I would have whacked him over the head with the rolling pin!)

  • As a college student several years ago I moved into a house with roommates and discovered an enormous rhubarb plant in the backyard. That evening i made pie and compote, and we drank quite a bit, which turned to be a good thing. I had felt bad about tossing out all the beautiful leaves, and was planning on a stir-fry, but got so drunk it just didnt work out. As this was before google, it was a long while before I learned about the toxicity in the leaves, but alcohol saves the day yet again! Plus I’ve heard ingesting the leaves won’t kill you, just won’t taste good and might make you sick…

  • This looks delicious! And I totally did the dipping raw rhubarb into sugar thing as a child, too.

  • I grew up in New Hampshire where we ate rhubarb straight out of the garden also, dipping it in a small Dixie cup of sugar our mother would give us. One big stalk would last for hours. Mom also cooked rhubarb in a little water with plenty of sugar then she served it to us spread on toast! My mouth waters just remembering that wonderful breakfast treat.

  • Like you, as kids we were given rhubarb stalks and sugar in a little cup, and we would dip the rhubarb into the sugar. I loved rhubarb then and still do. Living in the amazing bread basket of south western Ontario, Canada, rhubarb is one of the things I look forward to each spring. For those who do not want strawberries in their compote, dried apricots are another alternative to other berries. I also like to add a little late harvest Vidal. And yes, rhubarb custard pie is amazing.

    Thanks for this great post!

  • Oh yes!! I love the wine- can’t wait to try it!!

    Last week made strawberry rhubarb crisp twice, second even less sweet for a great tart bite! This would have been perfect with the Angel Food Cake made and eaten yesterday!! http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2012/08/angel-food-cake-recipe/
    Which by the way was fab!!

    Time to get the ice cream maker out….

  • In Jersey City, NJ, we’ve been enjoying a slow, long, mostly cool spring, so it’s only right now that in my garden the strawberries AND the rhubarb are getting ready for a simultaneous harvest, which is a first for me.

    Our rhubarb came from a root cutting from a plant that was my husband’s grandfather’s, and who knows–he probably got it from HIS father’s farm in Summit NJ. It’s a very long-lived perennial, lucky for us!

  • Grandma’s fresh-baked rhubarb pie, no strawberries, pulled from the oven just before dinner was served. Divine!

    I’m not the pie baker she was so I put my rhubarb in the top of the double boiler with a little honey and let it cook until I get a yummy sauce. Sometimes I eat it warm.

    With ginger? Another favorite. Will be giving all of the above suggestions a go this spring.

  • Ladle over a scoop of vanilla gelato…yummy!

  • Apple also goes well with rhubarb. My mother always used to put some into apple crumble and the tartness of the rhubarb enhanced the apple.
    I made a delicious rhubarb sorbet once with preserved ginger, the recipe is in storage with the rest of my things

  • I love the addition of wine to this classic combination! I have a stockpile of strawberry rhubarb compote already in my freezer, but now I am beginning to get paranoid that I haven’t made enough… perhaps I will make your version this weekend! Beautiful photos!

  • I always hated rhubarb as a child because it was served to me as the highly acidic slop of stewed rhubarb sauce. However, since learning to roast it with ginger and sugar I have given it a second chance… this recipe will surely help with my re-education.

  • Love the use of the word “gleaning”!!

  • David, you mention “the grand tradition of French gleaning.” Are you familiar with Agnes Varda’s splendid documentary “The Gleaners and I” (“Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse”), in which she compares her “gleaning” of bits and pieces of life for her films to people in France who forage for their food, and interviews them? Wonderful. It’s available on DVD and well worth looking for. (My library had it.)

  • I too grew up (in England) with lots of rhubarb and have long loved it. We used to make rhubarb fool which would basically entail folding whipped cream into the compote you describe above. If you can’t do dairy, I’ve just discovered that if you chill full fat coconut milk overnight you can whip it like cream. A dollop of that on the side would be wonderful.

  • Sounds Delicious!! Will make as soon as my rhubarb is ready. M

  • One of my responsibilities in the dance community where I belong is to feed the musicians at the special events we sometimes host. The last time I did it I could not resist making a rhubarb and raspberry compote to pour over a genoise. I was really nervous about serving something so controversial for dessert, but not a drop was left.

    I infinitely prefer raspberries in my compote {made by roasting the rhubarb and the raspberries in the oven with some sugar; vanilla and a drop of rosewater added after it has cooled, no water necessary} because cooked strawberries have such a nasty texture. I think it was Nigella who likened them to dead slugs.

  • I really dislike rhubarb – can’t bear the way it leaves my teeth all furry – but do cook it as it’s my husband’s favourite thing. Usually make it into a compote that he eats with yoghurt and I buy or make something else for myself.

    My mother taught me to use an orange when cooking rhubarb – add a couple of slices of peel to the chopped stalks and then use the juice instead of water. I’m told this gives a lovely flavour to late-season rhubarb, but I wouldn’t know.

  • I make this quite often to have with yoghurt for breakfast, but I’ve never added booze before! I must say, that sounds like an excellent idea. I sometimes also grate a bit of orange zest into it or add cinnamon instead of ginger. Whatever you do with it, you can’t really go wrong with rhubarb and strawbs!

  • This rocks !

  • If you haven’t tried it, the Rhubarb-Berry Jam recipe that David has here on his site is fantastic! At this time of year I always make a couple of batches to keep, plus use for all the June birthday’s in our family. It is yummmmmy!

    http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2009/06/rhubarb-berry-jam/

  • A couple of days ago I made a rhubarb and apple crisp based on a recipe from Fields of Greens, one of the wonderful veggie cookbooks from Green’s Restaurant in SF.

    The only trouble with it is that the crisp topping soon became the non-crispy topping due to the moisture in the rhub/apps.

    Still deelish, though.

  • I recently took a cooking class (in the Willamette Valley, Oregon’s wine country) where the instructor did a roasted rhubarb compote (served over an olive oil cake with vanilla ice cream). I think she used a lot less sugar (although obviously, some was needed). The nice thing about it was that the texture of the rhubarb was more pronounced as opposed to turning a bit mushy, which I find is often the case when it’s cooked in other ways.

  • this reminds me of your strawberry rhubarb sorbet!!! absolutely the best!!!

  • Great recipe. Goes well with shortbread biscuits and ice cream. Yum! I used to do something similar but using Pimms.

  • My family has grown up on Rhubarb and now I am passing on the tradition to my daughter. We love rhubarb so much we have 4 plants in our backyard garden. I make rhubarb raspberry pie, rhubarb crunch, rhubarb marmalade, rhubarb muffins and anything else I can think of. My grandma (now 97 and 3/4) had a garden and always grew rhubarb. My sisters (5 of them and 3) brothers all wait anxiously for the first cuttings of rhubarb from our gardens.
    A funny story about rhubarb is that it is addictive. When we lived in Houston, our friend Jack came over for dinner and I made rhubarb crunch for dessert. It was still warm and I put it in a bowl with vanilla ice cream. Our friend Jack was appalled, no way was he eating, “that weed!” But after seeing us enjoying our dessert, Jack took a bite and did not stop eating until he had licked the bowl clean. Then he asked to take the rest of the pan of rhubarb crunch to his Moms house, along with my recipe, for his parents to try. Of course his family loved it too and now are rhubarb addicts too.
    Thanks David for this post. One must never apologize for rhubarb. The only apology needed is for those that turn their noses up before even trying one of God’s greatest gifts to man, the rhubarb plant : )

  • What an incredible coincidence! I honestly was going to send an email to you (although I wasn’t sure how to do this) to ask about the possibility of posting something using rhubarb. And here it is! Voila! I thoroughly agree, rhubarb is a totally under-appreciated food. I just returned home (San Diego) from a visit to my brother and his family in Seattle, and in my suitcase I brought back 7 pounds of gorgeously plump, red, fresh rhubarb! Having grown up in Wisconsin, rhubarb was one of the harbingers of summer. But seven pounds of rhubarb? Even though strawberry rhubarb pie is my absolute favorite, there are only so many consecutive days one can keep eating this for evening dessert followed by generous slices for breakfast (now THAT’S the absolute best!) before it loses just a little bit of its excitement. However, strawberry rhubarb compote is both easy to make and easy to freeze. I’m so glad to see this post!! Telepathy! Hip, hip Hurray for the humble rhubarb!

  • Looks delicious David and I agree re the sugar. For less impact on your body try using coconut palm sugar, deliciously nutrient with a nutty caramel flavour, agave or rice syrup. I love to roast my rhubarb with fresh line juice and one of Thames sugars or thyme honey – divine with some sheep’s milk yoghurt with breakfast or dessert. Thoroughly enjoy your blog by the way !

  • We “inherited” about 20 rhubarb plants on our new allotment and for the first time in my life I have enough rhubarb to make all rhubarb recipes i want to. I’ve already made stewed rhubarb and rhubarb muffins, cake, cobbler, tart… endless possibilities! And now, of course, I want to try your recipe, too!

  • Rhubarb and oranges make a really nice marmalade too. It’s been a cold spring here in Toronto, so no field grown rhubarb yet.

  • Like asparagus, rhubarb is a culinary sign that spring is here and every year I make a rhubarb upside-down cake and a compote, with or without strawberries added. I first discovered rhubarb when I lived in Germany and a friend made a simple German cake base with rhubarb topping in the spring and served it with whipped cream (of course). I was hooked, and ever since cooking with rhubarb brings back that time in Germany.

  • i ‘acquired’ some rhubarb myself this week, noticed in an abandoned garden as i biked past. two fine enormous fat stalks bought home to make a glorious rhubarb bakewell tart. will go back for more for this compote.

  • We are fortunate to have access to rhubarb almost all year round and its very popular with customers at our local farmers markets. I never realised it was such a maligned vegetable. It features regularly in our house. Rhubarb and cinnamon cake is a favourite as is rhubarb chutney and jam. Baked in the oven with strawberries, a splash of white wine and honey is wonderful. You can eat it as it, with yoghurt or on top of ice cream. I’ve also seem it served as an accompaniment to pork where I would imagine the astringency of the rhubarb would go quite well.

  • I share the memories of, when growing up, dipping rhubarb fresh from the garden into the sugar pot. My parents and grandparents (I live in Germany) had a large old rhubarb plant in the garden.
    I learned always to add some Lemon Juice (and a strip of the peel, if you like) when cooking rhubarb. Though it at first sounds illogical to add tart lemon to tart rhubarb, the two acids react and the lemon makes the compote milder. And it lessens the furry feeling on your teeth.

  • Orange and rhubarb is definitely a wonderful combination. When I bake rhubarb I always add the zest of an orange (unchopped, the strings of zest look great against the pink stalks) but not the juice – rhubarb throws off more than enough liquid as it is. IMHO it’s far superior to the usual pairing with ginger.
    There is a sublime Nigella Lawson recipe for rhubarb shortcake in which I replace her vanilla essence with orange zest (finely chopped this time) – it’s about the best thing to eat with a mug of tea I know of.

  • Just finished rhubarb-strawberry pie, will try this next. Assuming critters leave plants alone.

  • Ah, rhubarb! An amazing stalk. And I agree with Christopher: orange zest is a great addition; much better than ginger. Alas, I live with a crazy partner who hates rhubarb, and doesn’t like the “seeds” in strawberries. I only get my rhubarb fix when I push him out of the kitchen and make it myself. On the other hand, when I do make it, I know that it will ALL be there for me to eat, because he won’t go near it. Yum.

    Thanks, David, for reminding us of this great Spring stalk.

  • Nothing screams spring like rhubarb! I can’t wait to get my hands on some, soon. Bonus points if i find the free version like you did! :)

  • Ooooh my! David! When I saw the title of this blog I rushed to read it! Last week I made a simpler rhubarb-strawberry compote than yours (thank you for the wonderful additions which I’m going to copy). I served it with coconut Greek yogurt and as others have noted, the combination of these fruits and yogurt is divine. My fruits were delivered by my CSA, and have been a bit less sweet than I prefer, so first I nuked the rhubarb with sugar in a covered bowl. Tasted, added Xyla and lemon flavored liquid stevia. Finally added the strawberries…and as soon as the berries are sweet enough I’ll add them at when removing the compote from the heat…these needed the sweetness to cook into the berries. It was a bit liquidy, so i stirred in arrowroot until it reached the texture I wanted. Mmmmm next time, ginger, maybe a splash of white wine. Ahhhhhhh. Yes!

  • Hi, love you David, but yes, I love rhubarb even more. Had it growing in my family’s yard as a kid and have eaten it ever since. Now, far from from my family home, of course, but it still evokes Spring, family, love, to me every Spring. I prefer it not in pie, not with strawberries but on it’s own; stewed with minimal water and even more minimal sugar. Serve fridge cold, alone. Do not share!

    The last directive is non-negotionable.

  • Wonderful comments that bring back such memories of my childhood..
    I’ve seen rhubarb in the marché here. time follow in my mom’s footsteps and make some.

  • I completely agree, rhubarb doesn’t get enough respect. It’s one of the best things about spring! In fact I just made some poached rhubarb for dessert tonight.

  • I never knew rhubarb was controversial, I love it!

  • Memories, memories! This takes me back to my childhood in UK in the 50s when I too used to eat it raw dipped in a bit of sugar. My Dad used to put an upturned, holey galvanized bucket over the plant in early spring to force it to grow thinner, tender stalks. Stewed, crumble, fool, pie. Rhubarb and Ginger Jam. mmmmmm. I love it all!

  • Yummy! And I love the use of fresh ginger here. So appropriate!

  • OH YUM….The last Rhubarb I saw/bought was after an hour and a half drive up to Gibraltar at the Morrisons. I don’t know if the plant will grow in our hot climate here in Southern Spain, going to check.

  • The exciting Rhubarb, I don’t know why but it does. I haven’t seen it anywhere in the middle east, and I haven’t even ever tasted these red celery looking stalks while I was growing up in US.

    They were once sold in one of the supermarkets where I live now ( never to be seen again) and I bought them and made Strawberry Rhubarb pie, but the truth was they didn’t taste anything! And I know they weren’t that fresh.

    Are they really tasty? I wish I knew!!

  • My grandmother had a “special” wooden barrel (both ends open) which she placed over the young shoots of rhubarb each spring so she could have extra long stalks. The stems grew longer that way, and perhaps more tender? Wonderful memories of her rhubarb sauce – of that and of the lambs quarters she nurtured near a spiggot that leaked ever so slightly. Seattle is good for things like that :-).

  • My grandmother always made compotes and pies with roughly equal parts blueberries and rhubarb [all picked wild in Minnesota] and I didn’t even realize strawberry/rhubarb was a more standard combination until I went off to college.

    I have to say I still find the blueberry version superior, even with store-bought, fresh or frozen produce.

  • I love the hint of ginger. This compote would be fantastic over some vanilla bean ice cream!!

  • Rhubarb is wonderful.

  • I have three large rhubarb plants in my yard, and last year I made a delicious vodka infusion with much of it. It was lovely all summer with some fizzy water, mint from the garden, and lots of ice. Spring is late here in Montana this year (and seems to have jumped straight to summer — 80 degrees today!?) but the rhubarb is just coming in, and I’m drinking the last of last year’s infusion … time to make more.

  • I love rhubarb. My father used to tell us kids about how he ate it raw from the garden. We thought he was quite brave. It wasn’t until he was in his eighties that he clued us in to the dipping in sugar part.

  • We also make rhubarb and rosemary granita with Sichuan and pink peppercorns at this time every year. Cook rhubarb and rosemary; sieve; cool then freeze; stir and freeze several times; eat.

  • I adore rhubarb. I have 5 plants and they are producing at a rapid rate at the moment (Autumn in Australia’s subtropics). As soon as I rip out the stalks, a week later there they are again. My favourite way of cooking it comes from one of my favourite Aussie chefs (Stefano Manfredi): Chop up the rhubarb in small pieces (about a bunch), plonk in a saucepan with 1-2 tablespoons Rosewater, a split Vanilla Bean and Maple Syrup. Cook for 5 mins til mushy. Delicious with yogurt, cream or icecream and on morning porridge. You can substitute the Vanilla bean for Ginger pieces.

  • A wonderful – and very British – way to use rhubarb is to make a rhubarb crumble. Fab with vanilla ice cream or cream. Rhubarb also goes really well with mackerel – cuts a dash through the oily fish.

  • Looooove me some rhubarb! I planted three rhubarb plants last year & they didn’t make it through the drought. I found frozen rhubarb at the grocery store & made a strawberry-rhubarb crisp for Mother’s Day. The stores have fresh this week – I’ll freeze some and maybe can some compote.

  • My grandfather grew a rhubarb plant in his small garden in Wisconsin and my grandmother would make a delicious rhubarb- coconut cake with the stalks, I love the connection of the recipe to memories of my grandparents when I make the cake for my family. The recipe does call for a lot of sugar but it’s CAKE!! Next time I make the recipe I am going to put some stalks aside to make your compote. Sounds yummy!

  • To be honest, I never cottoned to rhubarb and strawberries together, though I love both by themselves.

    One of my favorite pies of all time is what we called rhubarb custard pie: toss the cut-up rhubarb with flour, sugar and egg and it has to have a lattice crust. Not really custard, but eggy enough to moderate the acidity of the rhubarb and let you get away with a bit less sugar.

  • In northern Britain rhubarb is ubiquitous and it is very difficult to fail to grow it well. It like raspberries and grozets ( gooseberries) loves the climate. That is hardly a surprise as it was introduced to Western Europe iin the 18th century as a medicinal plant by a Scots doctor who had been a physician to Catherine the Great of Russia where it grows wild somewhere east of the Urals.

    There are dozens of different varieties , some with quite distinctive tastes like the legendary Tobolsk which tastes of plums.

    Go to Clumber Park in Yorkshire if you want to see the largest collection anywhere or start on your voyage as a rhubarb anorak.

    PS the use of ginger is very common, particularly the crystallised form when cooking rhubarb.

  • I never had rhubarb until I met my husband. Now I’ve made pies and enjoy them myself. We like it enough that when we removed our lawn in the front yard, we planted 5 rhubarb plants. They are still young and need another year before we can start harvesting. The great thing is that their big leaves look great, even if we don’t pick any. But we are looking forward to the first pie/compote from them.

  • I have to say: If you really like rhubarb, why are you messing it up with strawberries? I prefer mine plain.

  • Shouldn’t it be 240 ml each wine and water instead of 310? I made it and it was really tasty, a bit wet though….

    • Because fruits/vegetables vary in water (sugar) content, results will vary in desserts and recipes that feature them as a prominent ingredient. If yours is too wet, you can either cook it a bit more, or let it sit; rhubarb has a tendency to thicken as it sits and strawberries have a lot of pectin, which helps as well.

      In metrics, I use 250 ml=1 cup liquid,(1 1/4 cup is 295ml, to be precise) but the extra tablespoon or two of liquid in a recipe like this should not make a big difference due to the aforementioned variances in fruits and vegetables. (Will likely be publishing recipes in one format in the future, or just putting a conversion guide on the site and referring to that to make it easier and more standardized.)

  • Thanks for answering that quick, Conversion trouble – sigh! Letting it sit did help a bit indeed…

  • Hi David,

    May I ask an unrelated question? You mentioned in an earlier post somewhere that Jacques Genin has stopped baking to concentrate on chocolates. Did I get that right? Could it be that he has started baking again? Or did I mix something up? I hope so, because I’d love to try his lemon tarte!

    Thanks!
    Adrian

    • Jacques Genin had stopped selling pastries “to go” in the shop and you can only get them if you sit down in the café. (This, of course, is subject to change.) A friend who went recently said they were offering three desserts on the menu in the café; Tarte au citron (he uses lime), millefeuille, and a cheesecake, which I haven’t tried.

  • I live in south Florida, where rhubarb does not grow. I tried to cook with it once (store bought) and it was very tough and stringy. Are you supposed to peel it or did I just not cook it long enough? I’ve tried it in restaurants and loved it. Thanks for your help.
    Mary

    • I’ve cooked a lot of rhubarb and I’ve never peeled it. But rarely, I’ve come across folks that advise peeling it. So am not sure if there are specific varieties that require peeling, but I’ve not done it.

  • At home here in Ireland, we’ve always had tons of rhubarb growing in our back garden. I’m kind of amazed to hear that some people have never heard of it – let alone cooked with it! Funny what we take for granted

  • Just wanted to report that I made a half-batch of the compote last weekend – the vanilla bean version – and used it as a topping instead of plums on a plum cake recipe from the NYTimes.
    Delicious! Everyone had seconds.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe. The Ontario rhubarb was just available starting last week.

  • Looks amazing! I hope to try this soon.

  • Rhubarb got a bad reputation in England during World War II when rhubarb was plentiful, but sugar was quite scarce. You can just imagine the dreadful things that were made with it. I think it is just beginning to recover.

  • I live in the PNW where it grows like a weed. We bought a house about a decade ago which has about 1/4 acre of untended rhubarb. I wish someone (including the French lady who lives below me) would come over and glean. I beg the neighbors to cut it – take the entire plant (the root system is extensive) – something.

    I wish I liked rhubarb more. I cannot bear to yank a quarter acre of it and I cannot bear to put it all up. I do make rhubarb strawberry pie and compote though. Excellent ways to enjoy it! Rhubarb wine – not so much.

    The French snag other peoples fruit and veggies? Audacious. I might sling shot someone with an apricot pit if they dared to snag my veggies without permission.

  • Lovely colors! And thank you for sharing the recipe.