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The flavor of the moment: Rhubarb

The flavor of the moment: Rhubarb

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The flavor of the moment: Rhubarb

The origin of rhubarb

Rhubarb is a herbaceous, vivacious plant belonging to the Polygonaceae family. It originated from Asia, more precisely from China and Mongolia. For thousands of years, rhubarb was used for medicine to be then disseminated in Europe from the 18th century.

The culture of rhubarb was then extended towards north America, Australia and New Zealand. Nowadays we can find it in various countries. It is really appreciated for its unique flavor but also its use in sweet and savory dishes.

Rhubarb has about twenty different varieties. We can differentiate 3 major families thanks to the color of its stalks:

  • Rhubarb with green stalks - it is acidulous.
  • Rhubarb with red stalks: it is sweeter.
  • Rhubarb with red and green stalks: it is less acidulous.

Rhubarb is a rustic plant which is easy to grow and we can find it in the world’s more temperate regions. It is usually harvested in springtime and summer when the stalks are softer and more flavorsome. A stick of rhubarb can be used from five to ten years.

The plant is harvested from the second or even the third year. In fact it needs to reach a certain level of maturity to produce a maximum of rhubarb.

It is considered as a vegetable. The only edible part of rhubarb is its stalk. The leaves contain toxic oxalic acids which can cause renal problems as well as metabolic issues.

What are the benefits of rhubarb?

Used for a long time in cake making, rhubarb is increasingly appreciated by great chefs. Always on the lookout for new flavors, they found rhubarb is a treasure chest of flavors and textures to enhance their recipes. It also brings about certain benefits.

  • A source of alimentary fibers, it facilitates digestion and allows us to limit the absorption of cholesterol and sugar.
  • Rhubarb is one of the richest plants in calcium (145 mg of calcium for 100g).
  • Rhubarb has very few calories. Its energy value is similar to that of a vegetable and not of a fruit.
  • Rhubarb has a toning and anti-anemic action on the body.

What’s more, rhubarb is low in calories with an average of 15 calories per 100g.

rhubarb: our flavor of the moment | Metarom

In which products do we find rhubarb flavor?

Rhubarb is a polyvalent ingredient used in a variety of food products. It can be found in jam, compotes, fruit juices, syrups and cakes. It is also used to flavor yoghurt, candies and chocolate.

What’s more, rhubarb is often used to make sauces accompanying meat and fish. Rhubarb’s popularity as an ingredient in the food industry is due to its unique taste and beneficial nutritional properties.

Over the last three years, the number of launches containing rhubarb as an ingredient or flavor has grown constantly (source MINTEL GNPD).

To summarize, rhubarb is a polyvalent and flavorsome ingredient which can be used in multiple ways in cooking. If you are trying to add a hint of originality to your recipes, consider using rhubarb flavor to give an acidulous and subtle note to your dishes.

Main aromatic associations with rhubarb:

  • Strawberry
  • Vanilla
  • Honey
  • Apple
  • Cinnamon

A few launches:

Source: Mintel

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