Rhubarb and Ramps Herald the Arrival of Spring

The arrival of rhubarb and ramps tell me that spring is here and the gardening season is moving into full swing.    I am lucky enough to be able to harvest both rhubarb and ramps from my garden at home.
The first rhubarb in my garden

Ramps/ Wild Leeks growing in the back garden.

Rhubarb is a very old plant which was first recorded in history in ancient China.  Marco Polo brought introduced Rhubarb to Europe when he returned from the Orient.  Early records of rhubarb in North America identify a Maine gardener starting to grow it between 1790 and 1800.  The plants that I have were ones that my father started in the 1950’s.  They are still producing wonderful stalks
Freshly picked Rhubarb
 Rhubarb is prized for its use in pies, compotes and sauces.  Next week I will be adding a Rhubarb Chutney to the blog for a different way to use this great food.

Some helpful hints about preparing rhubarb.  One pound of rhubarb contains between 3 to 5 stalks.  When you cook one pound of rhubarb you will get about ¾ cup of stewed rhubarb.    Rhubarb is so tart that it will require some sugar or other form of sweetener to be added to make it acceptable to eat.

Delicious Stewed Rhubarb/ Rhubarb Compote
My Basic Recipe for Stewed Rhubarb
6 cups of chopped rhubarb
¾ cup of sugar
2 tbsp. water

In large saucepan, combine all ingredients. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to medium low. Simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally for about 15 min or until slightly thickened and rhubarb is in threads. Let cool and enjoy.

I often freeze some rhubarb in the spring to use in crisps and cobblers in the fall.  Wash and trim the rhubarb and cut into 1 inch pieces.  I usually package rhubarb 2 cups to a bag, label it and store it in the freezer.  I freeze it without sugar so I can add it to different recipes without worrying there will be too much sugar added.
Chopped Rhubarb ready to be bagged for the freezer

Ramps are another food I have growing in my garden. They may also be called wild leeks and are a wild onion native to North America.  Ramps add wonderful pungent flavours to soups casseroles and potato dishes.  At this time of year I often use ramps in place of scallions or leeks in recipes.  Ramps are easy to clean.
A tasty harvest of ramps for Victoria Day Weekend.
  Just cut off the roots, rinse thoroughly and scrub any dirt off the bulbs.  Because ramps are only available in the spring I often freeze some for future use as a seasoning.  I chop the bulbs and about half of the green leaves separately.  I leave them to air dry for a couple of hours then package them in an airtight container label and freeze.  Next week I will share a favourite ramp and potato soup.
Have a safe and sunny Holiday Weekend and catch my rhubarb and ramp recipes next Wednesday.
Margaret Ann RD