In Iceland, rhubarb of varying strains flourishes and is very popular. It grows in people’s vegetable gardens just about everywhere around the country and you’ll often see up to meter high main-crop rhubarb . . . . with stalks that are deep red and tinged with green, while its leaves are bright green.
This type of rhubarb has an intense flavor and robust texture and even though it can be eaten raw it’s really tart and thus, it's usually cooked with sugar to make jams, syrups, chutney, compotes and soup as well as all sorts of cakes and desserts.
As in most Icelandic households . . . and as far as I remember . . . in my family rhubarb was mostly preserved as jam or syrup. Nowadays, however, it’s frequently frozen and thus available throughout the year in one form or another. The latest popular trend is to use the rhubarb syrup to make cocktails like the Flachito cocktail( a rhubarb Mochito) seen in the photograph below served to visitors at the Hotel Flatey where I stayed on my recent visit to Flatey . . . . discovering some of my family roots!
I love the taste of rhubarb and in the summer time, especially, both my grandmothers often treated us with a truly sweet rhubarb soup (see recipe) or thick rhubarb compote with generous dollops of whipped cream. Mom, however, often turned it into a healthier main course meal and served it with home baked rusk topped with whipped skyr (or yoghurt) and fresh blueberries.
On the rare occasion I come across rhubarb at some farmer’s market in Athens, Greece. When this happens, I always make some rhubarb jam and/or soup with a touch of fresh ginger. Normally, I like to serve it cold or at room temperature with a dollop of luscious Greek yoghurt ( as seen in photo below) or vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries, when available.
Another typical Icelandic favorite is the traditional rhubarb jam (see recipe) that we eat all year round on bread for breakfast, in cakes and desserts but also very often with oven roasted Icelandic lamb . . . instead of mint jelly like they do in some countries.
Last week, here in Iceland, my niece offered to bring me some rhubarb from her garden that I, of course, accepted and after receiving and photographing it in my brother's garden with Benedikata checking it out (in photo) . . . I was in the kitchen happily making lots of jam . . .that is always truly easy2make and yummy too!
Actually I did two batches; one with just rhubarb, sugar and a wee bit of water and the second one with cinnamon tea, instead of the water, that gave it a taste boost and a bit different l . . . special and truly delish!
Hope you get a chance to make it some time soon!