The annual arrival of the first forced rhubarb of the season is a monumental day in my kitchen. We turn away from the heavier flavours of winter and start working with lighter, zestier dishes.
This year we have had a bumper crop of Irish forced rhubarb from Ryan's in North County Dublin. Forced rhubarb stems are thinner & more vibrant than their summer form, and the flavour is grassier too. After you have eaten the rhubarb, the leftover syrup is great in gin cocktails. Use the poached rhubarb as a topping for porridge, as an accompaniment to thick wedges of ginger cake, or with yoghurt.
5 stalks of Irish forced rhubarb
half grated tonka bean or half scraped vanilla pod
Chop rhubarb into 2cm slices and place in the container/jar. In the pot, heat the water, sugar and vanilla until boiling. Carefully pour the syrup over the chopped rhubarb and leave to cool at room temperature. Store in the fridge for 2 days before using. It will be good for a couple of weeks, getting a little sweeter each day.