Although eaten as a fruit, rhubarb is actually a vegetable. Only the stems are eaten - the leaves contain toxic oxalic acid. Choose crisp, firm stems, cut into pieces and cook with plenty of sugar to offset the tartness. Canned rhubarb chunks in syrup are also available.
Uses: Rhubarb is delicious flavoured with ginger and made into pies, crumbles and fools. Another popular combination is rhubarb and strawberries.
Seasonal availability: January to mid-November. English from April to November.
To store: Keep the leaves on until you are ready to use as this helps to keep the rhubarb fresh. Store in the fridge.
To prepare: Wash the stems and cut off the leaves and the ends. Cut into 2cm lengths, removing any strings if necessary. Stew or poach in some water and a little sugar. When making a crumble or a pie, the rhubarb does not need to be cooked first. Simply sprinkle on a little water and sugar to the rhubarb before adding the crumble mixture on top.