yorkshire rhubarb
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Glorious Yorkshire Rhubarb

I can’t help getting excited every time Yorkshire rhubarb hits the shelf. For me it is an early arbiter of spring not quite round the corner, but getting closer.

What is Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb

Forced rhubarb varies from the outdoor variety in that it is slender, tender and sweet. The colour of the forced stalks varies from pale pink to a deep ruby red. They are a welcome cheery sight on a cold January day for sure.

The forced rhubarb is vulnerable to many elements including not enough cold weather; too wet, too dry and all must be harvested by hand hence the premium price, but it is worth it.

Rhubarb only grew outdoors in the UK until the 19th century and harvested from spring through to autumn. By sheer accident at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London, builders covered a rhubarb crown with soil. When they later removed the soil, they discovered the crown had forced itself to back to life with tiny, tender stalks peeping out. Hence the process of forcing rhubarb began.

You can read the full story behind Yorkshire Rhubarb in my book, The Great Book of Rhubarb or over on my food pages on Spruce Eats.

Read more food features by Elaine Lemm

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