Seeing maincrop rhubarb at the farmer’s market for the first time each year is a very exciting moment indeed. It arrives late in spring, and lasts until mid-summer. It’s flavour is more intense than that of forced rhubarb, and it’s more robust all round; I like the fact that it’s the less pretty one too! The house where my siblings and I grew up had a small but mighty rhubarb patch… the flavour is pure childhood nostalgia.
I am lucky enough to work as a private chef in Berkshire each summer, and the rhubarb patch in the kitchen garden is particularly prolific. The more one cuts it the more it seems to grow! I’ll wangle rhubarb into my menus as much as possible – both sweet and savoury - but as well as this, I make batch after batch of this compote for breakfast each morning. The rhubarb is sweetened with a local Berkshire honey that’s suitably mild in flavour.
A charming little breakfast with your favourite yogurt and sweet toasted buckwheat.
This recipe makes a fairly large batch; if too large it freezes perfectly.
4 tablespoons English honey
1 vanilla pod or ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 star anise
a little splash of water or squeeze of orange juice
Coarsely chop the rhubarb.
Combine everything in a medium saucepan, pop on the lid, and place on a medium heat.
Simmer gently for 6 minutes (a little texture left in some of the rhubarb is lovely here).
Strain the compote through a sieve and reduce the liquid.
Once reduced by at least half combine this back with the rhubarb – this keeps the compote syrupy rather than watery, and concentrates the final flavour.
Allow the compote to cool before transferring to a Tupperware or Kilner jar and keeping in the fridge for up to a week.