One of the first vegetables to appear in our garden every year is rhubarb and although it is a vegetable, most preparations are grouped with fruits and sweet dishes. By the end of March rhubarb starts poking up every year since it is a perennial and by mid April you can often start harvesting a little, the plant is easy to grow.

When harvesting rhubarb you use the stalks which are fleshy and crisp reminiscent of celery stalks. The taste is quite tart but mellows some with cooking and adding sugar helps to tone down the tartness. We do not use the leaves.

Recipes for lemon like jams, syrups and pies can be used for inspiration when using rhubarb as it has similar acidity.

Strawberry-rhubarb pie is probably the best known use and it is a great combination since strawberries make their appearance in the garden shortly after the rhubarb. Other things we have made with it are jams and preserves, rhubarb syrup or juice to mix with water or soda, rhubarb creme – a Swedish preparation where you cook chopped rhubarb in a little water with sugar and thicken it with potato flour or cornstarch served with cream or ice-cream and different pies, tarts, muffins and baked goods.

Rhubarb is a bit tart but with cooking and balancing the flavor with sugar and sometimes a little lemon juice it is an interesting ingredient and a welcome early crop from the garden.