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scunthorpe pakoras

There is so much to say about rhubarb!

Rhubarb is a great crop to have on an allotment as it's perennial.  It just keeps on giving, year after year.  Harvesting is best between March and July.  The leaves contain oxalate.  This is poisonous if ingested in large quantities (also more than a bit bitter!) so cut off the leaves and compost them.

Although classed as a vegetable, it has been better known since the early 19th century for puddings and pies. Eating rhubarb can help protect you from heart disease, cancer and diabetes.  It is also great for helping blood to clot as well as aiding bone health.  Half a cup of cooked rhubarb (sweetened or not!), covered in hot, runny custard, can have a similar effect to Syrup of Figs, so care is needed.
Rhubarb stalks can be kept in the fridge, unwashed and wrapped, for up to 3 weeks.
So, let's start with some recipes.



Scunthorpe Pakoras

2 tablespoons Canola oil, for frying

1 1⁄2 cups besan (chickpea flour)

1 tsp. cumin seeds

Kosher salt, to taste

A touch of water

Oil to deep fat fry.

bite sized chunks of rhubarb peeled (or cauliflower, broccoli, florets, sliced peppers or small scoops of mashed potato).

In a large bowl, add the chickpea flour, cumin, salt, water and 2 tablespoons of oil. Put all the batter ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside and let the batter rest for about 20-30 minutes.

Heat about 1-2 inches of oil in a heavy skillet or deep pot over medium-high flame to 365-375°F. Using a fork, dip the prepared vegetables into the batter to coat. Then drop into the hot oil and deep fry until lightly browned on all sides. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm while you repeat with the remaining vegetables. If there are many guests, simply serve in large, lined baskets, hot from the kitchen.

Accompaniments include mint or coriander chutney or - in some isolated Scunthorpe areas - tomato ketchup is quite acceptable.

Rhubarb Gin

Needed: I large Kilner jar with tight fitting lid


About 1kg (2 lb) of rhubarb

1 x bag of granulated sugar

2 x 70cl bottles of cheapest gin 


What to Do:

Pull your rhubarb stalks and remove leaves and root ends. Rinse stalks but don’t dry it – just shake off excess water. Chop stalks into 3-inch pieces (roughly)

Put into the Kilner jar.

Whilst the rhubarb is still wet, pour on the sugar and shake the rhubarb so that the sugar covers and sticks to all the bits.

Leave in the jar for 24 hours, shaking intermittently and the juice will run from the rhubarb and ‘melt’ into the sugar.

Add the gin to the rhubarb and shake together intermittently over a couple of days until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Store the jar in a dark shed for a couple of weeks – and then taste! If it is too bitter - add more sugar and keep tasting. If it is too sweet, add more gin…keep tasting. It’s the fun part! 


Rhubarb and Orange Cake

Preparation: 35 minutes      Cook: 1 hour      Serves: 8


170 g butter at room temperature  

170 g caster sugar

3 large eggs

165 g self raising flour

2 tsp baking powder 

2 oranges

300 g rhubarb 

25g brown sugar

9” round cake tin with loose bottom

baking paper

For a richer mix, substitute 40 g of the flour with ground almonds.


Preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 C fan / 350 F / Gas mark 4.

Grease and line the tin.

Using an electric whisk in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together, until creamy and fluffy, and any lumps have disappeared.

Add the eggs and beat until well combined. This may take a minute or two.

Sift in the flour and baking powder, add in the ground almonds if used and the rind from the two oranges. Add most of orange juice and stir to make a soft dropping consistency.  Pour into the prepared tin, and smooth top.

Chop the rhubarb into 2.5 cm / 1” chunks and distribute evenly over the cake mixture.

Scatter the brown sugar over the top and put in the oven.

The cake is done when the top is brown & a skewer inserted comes out clean – 50 – 60 mins.


Rhubarb and Orange Pudding



1 Kilo Rhubarb

Zest of 1 orange

2 teasp ground ginger

300g caster sugar

Knob of butter (approx. 12 grams)

2 teaspoons cornflour

4 teaspoons plain flour



200g plan flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

75g butter

50g caster sugar

1 carton buttermilk

Single cream or crème fraiche

Brown sugar



Mix all FILLING ingredients together in a bowl and set to one side.

For TOPPING, rub together the plain flour, baking powder, butter and sugar and combine with enough buttermilk to form a soft dough.

Place the FILLING into a pie dish and dot the TOPPING mixture onto the fruit filling, to form a cobbled top.

Mix together the cream and brown sugar and drizzle over the TOPPING.

Cook in the oven (180 C) for about 25 minutes until the top is golden brown.


Rhubarb and Date Chutney Recipe

1 lb Rhubarb

1/2 lb Dates

1 onion finely chopped.

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground ginger

1 pt malt vinegar


Wash and cut up the rhubarb, chop the dates.

Add the onion the cayenne pepper and the ginger.

Pour vinegar over and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally until tender.

Pour into heated sterilised jars and seal.

Rhubarb & Custard Cake


400g rhubarb

30g caster sugar


250g butter, softened.

150g pot Devon Custard (or 150g taken from tin readymade custard, or 150g homemade custard whichever preferred)

250g self raising flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

250g golden caster sugar

Icing sugar to dust.



Heat oven to 200/fan 180/gas 6.

Wash and cut rhubarb into 5cm/2” pieces. Place dry chunks into shallow dish and top with 30g caster sugar, turning with a spoon to coat rhubarb.

Cover with foil and cook for 15 mins. Remove foil & turn rhubarb pieces quickly before returning to oven, uncovered for another 5 mins until tender and juices syrupy.

Drain off the juices and reserve the fruit to cool.

Grease a 23cm/9” loose bottomed cake tin with butter.

Reheat oven to 200C/189Cfan/Gas 6.

Set aside 3 tablespoons of the custard. Beat the rest with the butter, flour, baking powder, eggs, vanilla, and sugar until creamy and smooth.

Place a third of the custard mixture into the cake tin and add just over a third of the cooked rhubarb.

Dab another third of the custard mixture on top, spreading out the best you can before scattering more rhubarb on top. Spoon over the last of the custard mix leaving it uneven and mounded in rough heaps.

Scatter lightly with whatever rhubarb is left and place in center of oven for 40 mins until well risen and golden brown. Now cover with foil and cook for a further 15-20 minutes.

Check its cooked through by inserting a skewer and pulling if out clean.

Cool cake in the tin, dredge with icing sugar once cool.


If you are reading this and have a favourite rhubarb recipe you are willing to share, please use our contact page and we will try to include it.

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