The return of the rhubarb is one of my favourite things about spring. Rhubarb is one of the few edible items in my small back yard garden, and it is so satisfying to pick a few stalks, lop off the heavy leaves with a sharp knife, and be able to use it immediately.
I add rhubarb to cakes, pies, relish, and cocktails. But my favourite way to enjoy it, is pretty much the simplest way – in a rhubarb compote. My grandmother had many, many rhubarb plants, and she used to bring us 4 litre ice cream containers full of her rhubarb compote, several times each season. To get through it all, we’d have it three times a day – over oatmeal or buttered toast in the morning, in our yogurt at lunch, and then over ice cream for dessert. Sometimes we’d simply have a big bowl of it, topped with crumbled meringues and whipped cream.
Rhubarb is very difficult to find out of season. So last year, when a neighbour shared some of her extra rhubarb I tried slicing and then freezing. And guess what? The rhubarb compote made with that frozen rhubarb was perfect! Now I’ll be freezing rhubarb every year.
This rhubarb compote is spiced up with a bit of ginger and cinnamon and is a little more tart than most compotes. If it’s too tart for your liking add a little extra maple syrup at the end. The raspberries are optional – they will deepen the colour, but also add some flavour. I find the raspberries complement the rhubarb, but if you aren’t a fan of raspberries, a slice of beet will also brighten the colour, just remove it after you have simmered the stalks.