How to force rhubarb

Earlier this week I retweeted the February seasonal food guide to help you with your seasonal food shopping!

Immediately I was asked the question ‘what’s forced rhubarb?’ and immediately my eyes lit up like most people’s when they see a pizza or George Clooney. 

Forced rhubarb is delicious! And something, if you have rhubarb plants, you can be doing now if you’d like an earlier crop (in about 8 weeks time) and sweeter stalks. 

Rhubarb as two very clear categories when it comes to cooking:

  • Forced rhubarb is better in savoury dishes as it adds a sweetness. It can also be used in desserts, however;
  • Main crop rhubarb is best for this because it’s sharper and can take the sugar!

Now, that’s a very high level view and please use the different types across the board, but if you’re just starting out it’s a good rule of thumb. 

What you’ll need

To force rhubarb you’ll need:

  • An established rhubarb plant or one that’s had at least 2 main crops
  • A large terracotta pot 
  • Well-rotted manure

How to force rhubarb 

  1. Clear around your rhubarb plant and add the well-rotted manure.
  2. Cover with the terracotta pot, ensuring no light can get in and leave for 8 weeks.
  3. After 8 weeks, you should have beautiful pink stems ready to be harvested gently. 

Hints and tips!

Forcing rhubarb is simple, however forcing rhubarb two years in a row should be avoided as it puts too much pressure on the plant. To get around this, plant multiple crowns to your can alternate forcing years between them.