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Author Topic: Rhubarb.  (Read 1154 times)


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« on: 04 October, 2013, 07:10:43 PM »
I read that in WW1 it was recommended  that people should eat rhubarb leaves to make up for the lack of vegetables - and were made ill from doing so. But I don't know who recommended it.
Was it the government or just gardeners who were unaware of it's toxicity?

And when did rhubarb stalks first come to be used for making pies?

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Re: Rhubarb.
« Reply #1 on: 17 October, 2013, 05:17:48 PM »
Rhubabrb and pies go hand in hand so much that in parts of the USA it is simply called the Pieplant.

Its roots go back a long way...especially in China where the Chinese rhubarb plant was solely a medicinal plant.

Earliest records date back to 2700 BC in China where Rhubarb was cultivated for medicinal purposes (its purgative qualities which Mrs P-K still swears by).

[Historical oddities...•During the Song dynasty (960-1127) the rhubarb was taken in times of plague. •During the Yuan dynasty (1115-1234) a Christian sentenced to hard punishment was pardoned after using previously collected rhubarb to heal some soldiers. •During the end of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) a Ming-general tried (in vain) to commit suicide by eating rhubarb medicine.]

The Chinese Rhubarb is the the variety Rheum palmatum, which is only to be found growing in Ama Surga and Dsun-molun, in the mountainous regions of Kansu province.

http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/history Plenty more info on this link.

Rhubarb was introduced to Europe by Italian botanist Prosper Alpinus in 1608 as a substitute for Chinese Rhubarb whose roots were used medicinally.

Ben Franklin is credited for bringing rhubarb seeds to the North American east coast in 1772, yet the red stalks did not catch on until the early 1800s, when it became a popular ingredient for pie in the US.

In the late 1800's, rhubarb was brought to Alaska by the Russians and used as an effective counter-agent for scurvy. By the mid-1900s, its popularity was firmly entrenched in the New England states where it was used as pastry and pie fillings and also to make homemade wine.


By far, most of the rhubarb in England comes from Yorkshire in the north of England.

Yorkshire is fortunate to have access to some of the best rhubarb in what is known as the Rhubarb Triangle of Wakefield, Leeds and Bradford...and this (Rhubarb Triangle) is well worth a google for interesting text and even more interesting old Victorian and 1930s photographs.

The earliest record of the culinary use of rhubarb in Europe dates from 1608.

Rhubarb Fact File

•Rhubarb (genus Rheum) belongs to the plant family Polygonaceae. Contrary to popular belief, Rhubarb is a vegetable, not a fruit, being a close relative of garden Sorrel.

•The stalks of rhubarb though tart are edible, the leaves however are toxic.

•Rhubarb is 95% water. It contains no fat, sodium or cholesterol.

•Rhubarb contains a fair source of potassium. The crisp, sour stalks are rich in vitamin C, dietary fibre and calcium.

•The calcium in rhubarb combines with oxalic acid making it hard for the body to absorb.


As far as rhubarb leaves being poisonous my mother always said they were because she thought (wrongly) that they contained arsenic.

And I remember that other renowned rhubarbologist on IA (I think it was Ant) who explained in his answer to a very similar Q on IA about toxic rhubabrb leaves that it is the oxalic acid in rhurbarb leaves that does you up like a kipper.

Wiki chimes in with this extra snippet..."Rhubarb also contains glycosides—especially rhein, glucorhein, and emodin, which impart cathartic and laxative properties. It is hence useful as a cathartic in case of constipation."

This from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhubarb

My tip, hot from the kitchens of P-Kasso Towers, is whatever you do,never ever boil rhubarb. Never add water because all the taste, fragrance and goodness ends up going down the sink.

Instead bake it...just like you would apples...in a dish in chunks, sprinkle with sugar and grated ginger if you like ginger...and bake it about 180-200C for 20 to 30 minutes.

Add no water. It won't dry out because rhubarb is 95% water already so it oozes its own lovely juice. You will still get juicy, succulent rhubarb but zingful of taste. Just like your mother never used to make.

« Last Edit: 17 October, 2013, 05:49:11 PM by P-Kasso2 »
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