I am all for the diversity of fruits and vegetables. It is a part of the marvel of nature and I feel that we owe it to future generations. This is why I am sharing you this unique British technique to grown rhubarb dated from the early 1800s in a specific region of West Yorkshire, England.
What is particular is that the growing season is out of sync with the summer rhubarb. It is always grown indoor in dark sheds. The forced rhubarb is traditionally harvested by candlelight to preserve their blushes. It takes 2 to 3 years, without harvesting, to transform the outdoor grown summer rhubarb into forced rhubarb. You can read more about that process and how to cook with forced rhubarb on an article from the BBC.
So why go to all this trouble?
It is for the taste. Forced rhubarb is more tender than the rhubarb we all know. It is also know for its bittersweet flavor. Be careful to not eat leaves since they are toxic.
Growers across the globe copied and adapted the traditional technique. The remaining 12 growers of Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield (called the Rhubarb Triangle) fought back and won. As Champagne, Parma ham and Darjeeling tea from India, Yorkshire forced rhubarb has, since February 2010, a EU’s Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) classification. With a protected designation also comes the assurance for the consumers that the growers respect the traditional production method.
What do You Think about That?
Designation of Origin status is very European. It is not common this side of the Atlantic ocean. At one time, there were 200 growers of forced rhubarb in the Rhubarb Triangle. Do you think that to give a PDO to a produce is the best to ensure the survival of the traditional production method?