Originally cultivated for its medicinal qualities, rhubarb originated in Asia over 2,000 years ago. It wasn’t until the 18th century that it was cultivated for culinary purposes. It’s often thought of as a fruit, but it’s actually a vegetable (a close relative of garden sorrel).
Rhubarb, a perennial, is extremely common in Northern United States and can survive even with a fair amount of neglect.
I will admit: We didn’t plant this rhubarb. There was one existing at the Pettinger Plot and Honeymoon Cottage. I’ve never given growing rhubarb much thought because we’ve always had some, and around here, people are always giving it away.
Rhubarb is a curious plant, whose sassy tartness requires a bit of sweetening for my palate. My favorite thing to make with Rhubarb is Rhubarb Big Crumb Coffeecake. I first came across this recipe on Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from The New York Times. The moist cake, the massive crumbs . . . it seemed like an obvious choice when I first made it all those years ago. You know when a recipe sticks around year after year, it’s a keeper. As most of us who cook/bake, I’ve tweaked this with my own adaptations. Mostly, just increasing some spices, adding a little clove, and bourbon, of course (they don’t call me “whiskey girl” for nothing).