Grown in kitchen gardens across the world, this classic heirloom has more to offer than just rhubarb pie…
There are many heirloom vegetable varieties around the globe. But only a few are classified as “all-time greats” in the garden and in the kitchen. You just might be surprised to learn that the Victoria Rhubarb is one of those classic heirloom vegetables prized by thousands of gardeners and chefs worldwide.
The Victoria Rhubarb is a beauty for sure – and it’s the standard by which all other rhubarb plants are judged. It features large, fat stems and a gorgeous bright red skin. The flavor of the Victoria Rhubarb is simply amazing. It’s tart like an apple, but has a hint of lemon to it…or even grapefruit, depending on the soil conditions!
This bold beauty is very adaptable to the climates and conditions where it is grown. The Victoria Rhubarb is actually a perennial and thus will yield bountiful harvests for years and years. Best of all? It’s easy to grow and is rarely bothered by pests or other problems. No wonder gardeners love it.
Rhubarb was meant for so much more than just pie!
Rhubarb is technically a vegetable. However, modern cuisine has always regarded it like a fruit, because of famous sweet and sour rhubarb pies. Don’t limit yourself to just rhubarb pie – you can do so much more with it.
Victoria Rhubarb tastes great with chicken, fish, and lamb (as well as most other meats), and it also cooks down to make a great stew. Pair Victoria rhubarb with rice or pasta. Make succulent custards and homemade tarts … even rhubarb jams and wine! You can also use the juice from the stems as a substitute for lemon juice.
Because Victoria Rhubarb stems lack the stringiness that many other rhubarb varieties have, cooks simply love it in the kitchen. One important note: Always cook with the rhubarb stems … not the leaves. Rhubarb leaves should not be eaten because they contain oxalic acid. The acid also is found in the edible stems, but in much lower concentrations, allowing it to break down in the cooking process.
The Story Behind Victoria
Victoria Rhubarb has been around for nearly 175 years. The longevity of the variety is a true testament to its vigor and superiority. A plant breeder in England, who named it in honor of Queen Victoria, cultivated this particular rhubarb. The superior and stout flavor, large stems, and bright red color of Victoria set her apart from other types of rhubarb plants. The actual color and size of your Victoria Rhubarb will depend on several factors – such as soil conditions and the amount of spring rainfall it receives.
Tips for Growing Rhubarb
Rhubarb plants like to have plenty of room, so allow adequate space between plants and don’t crowd them too closely. Victoria will also grow well in a semi-shaded spot.
Rhubarbs like rich soil amended with organic compost.
Start your seeds indoors now. Rhubarb blooms typically in late May and early June, depending on your climate.
When harvesting, don’t cut with a knife. Instead, gently pull the stem away from the crown, and remove the stem’s base. Cutting the stem leaves behind a stump that can rot and invite insects. By gently pulling off the entire stem, you’ll actually encourage the plant to keep growing and form more leaves, meaning more harvests.
Remove flower stalks as soon as they form to encourage your plant to grow longer into summer. Victoria will produce all summer and can even last right up to the first frost. Be sure to water it well during hot, dry weather.
Mulch lightly with straw.