While rhubarb has fallen out of fashion since our grandmother’s generation, it is enjoying a renaissance thanks to the efforts of a new generation of professional chefs, who use it in sweet and savory preparations.
Rhubarb is a spring vegetable. You may still be able to find it in your market, but if you can’t find fresh, frozen rhubarb works just as well in this ice cream recipe.
Our Nana was a big fan of rhubarb, which she stewed with sugar into a wonderful sweet and tart dessert. Many years ago, we chanced across a celestial dish of rhubarb ice cream at the Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City. When we returned for more, it was off the menu. Most customers, unfamiliar with rhubarb, weren’t enticed to order it.
So when we received this recipe from Taste Of Home, we raced to the store for rhubarb and dragged out the ice cream machine.
Consider making a double or triple batch, since this recipe yields only 2-3/4 cups.
Pretty in pink: rhubarb ice cream. Photo courtesy Taste Of Home.
RECIPE: RHUBARB ICE CREAM
1. PREHEAT oven to 375°F. In an ungreased 13×9-in. baking dish, combine rhubarb and sugar; toss to combine. Bake, covered, 30-40 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.
2. PLACE rhubarb mixture in a blender; cover and process until pureed. Transfer to a bowl; refrigerate, covered, until cold.
3. STIR lemon juice into rhubarb. In a small bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form; fold into rhubarb mixture. Transfer to a shallow 1-qt. freezer container.
4. FREEZE 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Freeze, covered, overnight or until firm. Yield: 2-3/4 cups.
WHAT IS RHUBARB
Rhubarb, Rheum rhabarbarum, is a vegetable in the family Polygonaceae.
The leaf stalks (petioles) are crisp like celery with a strong, tart taste. Rhubarb looks like rosy-pink celery, but is no relation (celery is a member of the Apiaceae family).
Before it was sweetened by British cooks and turned into pies and other desserts, it was added to soups (try it in lentil soup), sauces and stews—Moroccan tagines and Middle Eastern stews, for example. In the current rhubarb renaissance, it is braised and served with meats and as a savory garnish.
Be sure to cook only the stems; the leaves, though lovely in appearance, are mildly toxic.
While rhubarb is botanically considered a vegetable, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. A side effect was a reduction on imported rhubarb tariffs, as tariffs were higher for vegetables than fruits. [Source: Wikipedia]
And that’s only one example. Science notwithstanding, on May 10, 1893, tomatoes, a red fruit/berry of the nightshade family, were declared a vegetable by the United States Supreme Court. At the time, there were import tariffs on vegetables but not fruits, yet tomatoes were still being subjected to the tax. In 1887, an importing company had sued the tax collector of the port of New York to recover back duties collected on their tomatoes, which they claimed had been wrongfully classified as vegetables. The Court decided that the tariff act should be based “in common language of people,” not botanists, so tomatoes should be taxed like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets etc.
More proof that justice is blind.