CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hampshire Life today CLICK HERE

Tom Parker Bowles Forced Rhubarb Fool recipe

PUBLISHED: 11:45 26 February 2013 | UPDATED: 17:07 01 March 2013

Tom Parker Bowles Forced Rhubarb Fool recipe

Tom Parker Bowles Forced Rhubarb Fool recipe

A great name, and beautifully simple to make. Ginger biscuits add a wonderful crunch. Soaking them in King's Ginger liqueur makes it finer still. As summer goes on, use gooseberries and raspberries instead... Serves 6

Somewhere, in a candlelit shed in deepest East Yorkshire, there grows a vegetable. But this is no everyday carrot, or run of the mill swede, rather a lithe, limber and rosy-cheeked beauty whose taste is as sweet as her season is short. Because for a mere three cold months, we get to feast on Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb, a delicacy so adored and sought after that her very existence is protected by law.


Forced Yorkshire Rhubarb is the proud bearer of PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) after her name, meaning that only specimens grown in the famed Rhubarb Triangle between Bradford, Wakefield and Leeds can legally bear this noble name. And its not just the location that makes this so special, but the method of production too. The stalks (or petioles, to use their official moniker) must be harvested by hand, illuminated by only the candles light.


Now hang about, I hear you say. Tradition is all well and good. But candlelight? Whats wrong with a good old electric bulb? The answer is simple. Its origin was, in the words of Elaine Lemm in her wonderful Great Book of Rhubarb, a happy accident in Chelsea Physic Garden in 1817. During the winter, workmen accidentally covered some normal rhubarb roots with soil when digging a trench. And when, a few weeks later, the roots were exposed once more, there were a number of tiny, tender, pink shoots with a far superior flavour


And so an industry was born, first in London, before the whole operation moved up north. Forced rhubarb demands two things for optimum growth - water and soil with high nitrogen content.


Yorkshires never lacked rain. And a thriving woollen industry provided much needed waste, which was spread on the fields and converted into nutrients.


Two to three year old roots would be planted in the sheds, after exposure to frost, with no light or food. So without these two crucial necessities, the root is forced to grow a shoot. With so much force that you can actually hear a pop as stem is forced upwards. The candles, by the way, are simply there to help the pickers go about their business.


Vast sheds were built, heated by coal from the local mines. And every night, a Rhubarb Express would steam down to London, carrying this Pink Champagne down to London, and Europe after that. At the peak of the trade, at the start of the 20th century, over 200 tonnes a day made it down to the Capital. But by the mid-1960, the industry was in ruins, and the train never lefts its siding again.


Now, though, forced rhubarb is back and thriving, thanks to the likes of E H Oldroyd and Sons (yorkshirerhubarb.co.uk). And praise the lord for that, as it offers a much needed flash of pretty pink, a cheeky blush, in these dull winter months. Delicate and beautifully sweet, its like the fresh-faced teenage sister to conventional rhubarbs middle-aged maiden. Last year, I made some magnificent vodka with a bunch of the stuff, mellow with the merest hint of acidity. It helps create a wonderful crumble and fool too (recipe below) but also cuts an elegant swathe through both fatty pork and rich mackerel when transformed into a sauce. In fact, it has to be one of the true stars of the winter kitchen. Forced Yorkshire rhubarb. Its discovery might have been an accident. But its newfound adoration is anything but.


Rhubarb Fool from Lets Eat


Ingredients:


1.5 kg forced rhubarb stalks, cut into 4 cm lengths
300g caster sugar
Juice and zest of an orange
550 ml double cream
Packet of ginger biscuits, crunched up into crumbs
Big splash of either King Ginger Liqueur or Stones Ginger wine (optional)


Method:


Preheat oven to 180 c, put rhubarb in casserole and cover with the sugar, orange juice and zest. Put on lid and cook for about 25 minutes (40 for conventional rhubarb), until soft.

Allow to cool. Strain juice and reserve, and pick out 12 pieces for decoration and put aside.


Puree the remaining rhubarb in food processor.


Whip cream into soft peaks, not too firm, then fold in rhubarb puree into cream, along with a few dribbles of reserved juice. Dont mix too manically.

Put a layer of the crushed biscuits at bottom of small wine glass, then splash of the ginger booze. Spoon fool on top and finish with two pieces of rhubarb...

More from Food & Drink

Monday, November 12, 2018

Whether you’re looking for fine dining, pub food, a romantic meal for 2 or a taste of something from further afield, eating out in Hampshire really has something for everyone. Here’s our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Hello 2019! Join us for a wonderful evening seeing in the New Year.

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

Join us at Le Chateau to celebrate the festive season!

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

2 courses for £25 or 3 for £32.

Read more
Wednesday, October 3, 2018

We are a family run bistro with 4 boutique rooms for overnight accommodation with breakfast.

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

Located in Botley, Southampton, Regginas Italian serves the best and freshest seasonal produce, Italian cheeses, meat and seafood.

Read more
Friday, September 7, 2018

Every Thursday we add at least 1 special to our menu ready fro the weekend.

Read more
Thursday, September 6, 2018

Christmas dining and party nights - bookings now being taken.

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

If there’s one thing we love to do here at Hampshire Life, it’s to celebrate local produce! So here are a selection of some of the best farm shops across the county where you’ll find just that

Read more
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Coeliac disease affects 1 in 100 people, and many more are seeing the health benefits after waving goodbye to gluten. Here are just a few of the county’s cafes, pubs and producers who are embracing the gluten free way

Read more
Thursday, August 16, 2018

Get a starter and a main for just £9.95.

Read more
Friday, July 13, 2018

Got a date or planning a catch up with a friend? Head to one of these fantastic cocktail bars in Southampton

Read more
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Once destined for the chip fryer, we visit one north Hampshire business whose award winning single-estate cold pressed oil is giving Tuscan traditionalists a run for their money

Read more
Friday, July 6, 2018

The 2018 festival season is finally upon us and we round-up some of the best food/drink events to visit this summer

Read more
 
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Latest Competitions & Offers

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory



Property Search