Forcing Rhubarb- hints and tips and recipes from BBC Radio Leicester Gardening

Photo Glenn Facer

For listeners of today’s BBC Radio Leicester gardening. Here’s what I was talking about today. This advice comes from Glenn Facer, who has worked in the gardens at Chatsworth House for 33 years. Glenn has been growing fruit and vegetables in the kitchen garden for 14 years and grows produce for the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Glenn supplies the family in the main house and also the restaurants, cafes and hotels on the estate.

Glenn Facer working at Chatsworth

Glenn says: “I force the rhubarb by lifting small clumps off the rows out on the beds from November until about the end of march, leaving the roots on top of the ground to be frosted for a few days. This aids the forcing process.

Rhubarb dug out ready to be forced
Forced rhubarb has sweet and tasty, pale stems

In dustbins, I place a layer of compost in the bottom and place the clumps on top, filling round with more compost but not covering the crown. Then lightly water and replace the lid to exclude light.

The dustbins are placed in a heated glasshouse for a quicker crop, but can be placed in a cold greenhouse or shed. They are usually ready to harvest in about 3 to 4 weeks time.

I usually dispose of the crowns after forcing, as they are worn out and would take a while to crop again.

The varieties I use are Victoria , Timperley Early and Champagne.”

Forced rhubarb from the Chatsworth gardens. photos Glenn Facer

 

Recipes we talked about on the radio. These were published in the Garden News Magazine in 2022. I write a column each week focussing on what I’m growing and how I’m using the produce in the kitchen.

Smoothy recipe:

1/2 cup cooked, cooled rhubarb

1 teaspoon sugar ( optional) or maple syrup or honey

1.5 cups plain yoghurt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Or pinch of dried ginger

Add icecream to serve (optional)

Cut the rhubarb into 2cm pieces. Wash and place in a saucepan with just the water clinging to the stems. Cook until soft. Add the sugar or sugar substitutes if using. Cool. Add the other ingredients and whizz in a food processor. Adjust the taste/ consistency by adding milk/cream/ or a scoop of vanilla ice cream according to taste.

Enjoy!

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