Rhubarb is a native of China. He came to Europe only in the Middle Ages, from India. And the first European country to appreciate the culinary advantages of rhubarb was England. The plant has taken root in Europe. In the 19th century, rhubarb finally “reached” Russia. But it was not foreigners from the west who brought it, but the famous compatriot - geographer and traveler N. M. Przhevalsky - from his trip to Central China.
For a long time, rhubarb was used in Tibetan and Chinese medicine as a medicinal plant. The fact is that it has many useful properties and contains oxalic, malic, succinic, citric, acetic and ascorbic acids, vitamins A, C, group B, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus. Rhubarb stimulates the gastrointestinal tract and is recognized as a good tonic.
Only the stems are the edible part of rhubarb. - Leaves and root can not be eaten, as they are poisonous. This vegetable is simply versatile in cooking. It is used for making jams, jellies, marmalade, puddings, various desserts, compotes, jelly, kvass, wine, toppings for pies, mashed potatoes, vinaigrette, salads, cereal, borsch (replacing tomatoes), pickle (instead of pickles), sauces for meat, game and even ice cream.
When buying, storing and preparing rhubarb, you should adhere to some rules that will preserve its taste.
- Firstly, rhubarb is cooked very quickly - only seven to ten minutes. With a longer heat treatment, it boils.
- Secondly, too much sugar used in cooking clogs the original taste of the vegetable.
- Thirdly, if you are going to store rhubarb, you should rinse its stems, dry it, wrap it in paper and put it in the refrigerator, where it can stay for no more than two to three days. Frozen rhubarb is stored for several months.
And finally: if the stems of the plant have become stiff, which indicates its "old age", before cooking it is recommended to remove the "string" from them, as with celery.
Description of Rhubarb
Rhubarb (Rheum) - a genus of herbaceous plants of the buckwheat family. There are more than 20 species of rhubarb. Species of rhubarb easily give fruit-bearing hybrids, and the latter also easily give hybrids among themselves, so it is difficult to obtain and determine pure species.
These are perennial very large herbs with thick, woody, branched rhizomes. The overground stems of rhubarb are annual, straight, thick, hollow and sometimes slightly furrowed. Basal leaves are very large, long-leaved, whole, palmate-lobed or serrated, sometimes wavy along the edge; petioles are cylindrical or multifaceted, at the base equipped with large sockets. Stem leaves are smaller. The stalk of rhubarb ends with a large paniculate inflorescence.
The rhubarb flowers are mostly white or greenish, rarely pink or blood red; they are bisexual or, due to underdevelopment, same-sex. The perianth is simple, six-leaved, the leaves of which are all the same or the outer ones are slightly smaller than the inner ones, after pollination the perianth withers. Stamens 9, in two circles, with the outer circle doubled; only Rheum nobile Hr. six stamens, since the outer circle is not doubled. Pestle alone, with an upper single-nested trihedral ovary; three columns, with capitate-kidney-shaped or horseshoe-shaped stigmas.
The rhubarb fruit is a trihedral wide-winged or narrow-winged nutlet. The seed is protein, the germ is central.
Propagation and planting of rhubarb
Propagated by seeds; in culture, by dividing an adult plant so that each part of the root has a kidney (eye); the latter method rather gives large leaves. In one place, rhubarb can grow up to 15 years, but still it is better to limit its life to 10 years, and then divide and seedlings. The fact is that before this age is reached, the yield is highest, and then it falls.
Propagate the plant, as already noted, can be both seeds and division of rhizomes. The latter method is preferable. Healthy, well-developed 4–5-year-old rhubarb bushes are divided in the fall. They are cut with a sharp shovel into 2–4 parts so that each has at least 1–2 large buds and well-developed roots. You can not dig the whole bush, and separate the desired part. Delenki are slightly dried, sections are sprinkled with charcoal and planted.
Seeds are sown on a planting bed. You can sow freshly picked seeds into the ground, you can late autumn on frozen ground. During spring sowing of rhubarb, preliminary cold stratification is required for 1-2 months. Seeds are planted in the soil to a depth of 2-3 cm. Seedlings appear after 15-20 days, they are thinned out, keeping the distance between seedlings of 20 cm, or dive into ridges.
After a year or two, plants are planted in a permanent place. They bloom in the third year.
It is better to plant rhubarb in a permanent place in September, but it can also be done in early spring. A place for him is chosen without stagnation of water. Rhubarb works well on light loams, however, any humus-rich soil is suitable. Since it grows for a long time in one place, do not be stingy before planting to add up to 10 kg of humus or compost into the soil per 1 m², as well as 100 g of full mineral fertilizer and 120 g of wood ash. Sour soils lime.
Before planting, the soil should be treated to a depth of 40 cm. Rhubarb rhizomes and well-developed seedlings with a lump of soil are planted in pits 50 cm deep at a distance of at least 70–80 cm from one another. In this case, the plant needs to be deepened slightly compared to the previous planting (approximately 3 cm). Then the soil is compacted, watered abundantly and mulched with humus or peat.
Rhubarb can be grown in the rows of fruit trees, and in the rows of the rhubarb to sow green crops.
Caring for rhubarb plants consists in regularly removing weeds, loosening row-spacing and around plants, abundant watering in dry weather, and feeding. In the first year after planting seedlings, rhubarb begins to be intensely fed, alternating the application of organic and mineral fertilizers. As organic mullein, diluted with water in a ratio of 1: 5, chicken droppings (1:10) are used, and complex mineral fertilizers of the Kemira-Universal type or nitrophoska (50-60 g per 10 l of water) are taken as mineral.
Supporters of organic farming are encouraged to bring ash, scattering before irrigation or loosening the soil at the rate of 1 glass of ash per 1 m2, and infusions of nettles and weeds. Top dressing is repeated every 10-12 days, starting after the second thinning or 2 weeks after transplanting. Rhubarb consumes a lot of nitrogen, therefore, before starting to grow in the spring, 1 m² is added per tablespoon of full mineral fertilizer and the same amount of ammonium nitrate.
All subsequent years, while rhubarb grows and bears fruit, it is fed 2-3 times per season. For the first time in early spring, 10 g of ammonium sulfate and potassium sulfate, 15-20 g of superphosphate per 1 m². The second time after 3-4 weeks, the infusion of fermented grass with the addition of extracts from 20 g of superphosphate to 10 liters of water. The third top dressing is done in August with phosphorus and potash fertilizers. Once every three years, compost of 2-4 kg / m² is laid in the aisles.
Long and thick petioles of rhubarb can be obtained only with abundant watering. Rhubarb plantations are watered 3-4 times a day for 30-40 l / m². Watering contributes to less accumulation of oxalic acid in the petioles. From the second year, the appearing peduncles are removed and used for food.
Deployment of peduncles should not be allowed, since the growth of leaves is greatly slowed down. In summer, rhubarb bushes are rejuvenated, removing all leaves with petioles, leaving 1-2 for food. By autumn, the bush again gathers leaves, and when the temperature drops to 16-17 ° C, 1/3 of the leaves can be used for food, and 2/3 are left in order for the plant to prepare for wintering. In winter, plants are covered with fallen leaves. In spring, foliage is removed, allowing the kidneys to break through the soil, and until a powerful rosette of leaves grows, they are not cut off.
Rhubarb petioles begin to be harvested in the second year after planting seedlings or rhizomes in May-June, when they reach a length of 20-25 cm. Harvesting continues for 8-10 weeks in 3-4 doses, until mid-July - early August. Rhubarb is especially valuable in early spring, when it can very well replace fruits and berries. At this time, you can also use young (only young!) Leaves on cabbage rolls, cabbage soup, borsch.
Rhubarb petioles cannot be cut, they are broken out so as not to damage the growth point. To do this, take the stalk with your hands, turn in both directions, then break off with a light jerk down along with the leaf. You can not pull up, as you can damage the rhizome. When collecting petioles of rhubarb, at least 2-3 leaves should always remain on the plant so that the root does not deplete. The quality of the petioles is high at an air temperature of no higher than 17 ° C, oxalic acid accumulates in the heat, which not only reduces the taste, but also negatively affects the body, forming sparingly soluble salts that absorb calcium.
Popular varieties of rhubarb
Early ripe. Victoria, Krupnochereshkovy, Moskovsky 42 (relatively early), Tukumsky 5. Petioles 40-60 cm long, up to 3 cm thick, light green, with raspberry or dark raspberry pigmentation. They contain dry matter - 4-6.5%, sugars - 1.7%, vitamin C — 10.1-17.2 mg%; good taste - 4-4.5 points. Petioles begin to be harvested in the second or third year after planting - from mid to early July. In subsequent years, collection is carried out every 20-30 days. Varieties are valuable by the ultra-early arrival of a high yield - 1.5-6.9 kg / m². Resistant to disease and pest damage. Variety Victoria is prone to flowering.
Mid-season. Obskaya, Ogrsky 13. The first tolerates drought and waterlogging, the second is resistant to shooting. Plant height up to 80 cm. The rosette is compact, petioles are light green and green with raspberry or dark pink pigmentation at the base, respectively 20-23, 40-55 cm long, large, with a total weight of 150-620 g, good taste - 4- 4.5 points. The variety of the Ob petiole is tender, sweet and sour, with a low fiber content. From seedlings to the first harvest 60-69 days. Productivity is high - 2.1-6.2 kg / m². Varieties are resistant to disease.