Poached Rhubarb and Rhubarb Caramel

It’s finally rhubarb season here in France and we love it! More than being an incredibly tasty fruit, it also suggests that spring has officially arrived and, obviously, summer is next 🙂 The rhubarb is very acidic, main reason why people tend not to consume it. However, it can be prepared in various ways, dimming its acidity and concentrating the flavour as in this recipe.

As a child, I’ve always liked acidic ingredients, especially lemon and rhubarb. So when spring comes, making rhubarb based desserts simply is an evidence. I noticed when going to the market that many people either do not consume it because of its particular taste but also because they have never tried it or don’t know how to prepare it. Honestly, that’s such a shame because this taste is unique, the texture soft and naturally creamy.

Rhubarb usually is paired with strawberry or yogurt ice creams, crumbles etc… which tend to cover up the acidity but at the same time diminish its natural taste. Also, rhubarb is a lot prepared in pies. I feel like there is a real difficulty in revealing the full potential this fruit has to offer in desserts counterbalancing the acidity. Hence I came up with this recipe which aiming to concentrate the taste and enhance it as much as possible. Poaching the rhubarb in a sirup will respect the natural taste and texture of the product. The sirup will serve as the basis to make a soft caramel. When poaching, the rhubarb will lose a lot of its juice in the sirup, hence the caramel will have a strong rhubarb taste.

RECIPE 4 to 6 servings

Prep time: 30 minutes    Cook time: 30 minutes Chill time: 30min to 1h

You will need:

  • 1kg rhubarb
  • 500ml water
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla pod
  • Long pepper to taste (I used an entire one)


Step 1 – Poached Rhubarb

Heat up a saucepan (low-medium heat), with the water & sugar. Cut the vanilla pod, scratch the seeds and add both in the water. Crush the long pepper (I used a rolling pin) and add it in the water.

Leave the saucepan covered with a lid over a low heat for around 30 minutes so the tastes are concentrating well.

While the sirup is infusing, peal the rhubarb. This is an important step to avoid a stringy texture. Then make sections of 3 to 4 cm.

When the 30 minutes are over, you can start poaching the rhubarb. I suggest you don’t put all the sections at once, but rather in three batches.

Increase the heat to bring the sirup to a boil, then immerse the sections in it. Wait for the sirup to slightly boil again and check regularly the sections cooking stage using a knife’s blade. It should be soft on the outside and still a bit resistant inside. Make sure not to over cook the rhubarb except if you wanna make a purée 🙂 Take the sections out using a skimmer to remove the sirup surplus.

Before poaching the second batch, make sure that the sirup still is slightly boiling. Repeat until you poached all your batches. If there is juice in the cooked rhubarb’s plate, pour it back into the saucepan.

Step 2 – Rhubarb Caramel

Let the poaching sirup infuse for an extra 30 minutes. Then, remove the vanilla pod and big pieces of long pepper if you happen to have some.

Put the sirup over a medium heat without the lid and let the liquid evaporate as for a regular caramel. When 2/3 of the liquid evaporated, put the heat on medium-low to make sure that the caramel does not overcook (it would become too hard). It should take around 15 minutes to get to the desired texture: it should well coat a spoon but remain soft.

The fruit juice allows the caramel to keep a soft texture naturally, so do not add any other ingredients (fat usually). The idea here is to concentrate the taste as much as possible, and trust me this rhubarb caramel is crazy amazing and is the obvious sweetener for your dessert!

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