Rhubarb Compote

11 March 2012

Post image for Rhubarb Compote

I always look forward to seeing the vivid pink of the forced rhubarb at this time of the year, its season generally lasting from January to March in the northern hemisphere.

I love to have a jar or two of rhubarb compote in the fridge, which makes for a great accompaniment to have at breakfast with your toast or perhaps dolloped alongside a serve of natural or Greek yoghurt.

I particularly love making rhubarb crumble and Nigella Lawson has a great recipe in Feast. Though my favourite crumble recipe would have to be from her first book, How to Eat. Measure 120 g of flour into a large bowl. Chop up 100 g (3.5 oz) of cold butter (the recipe calls for 90 g but if you can buy butter in 100 g blocks, why save the last 10 g?) and rub this into the flour with your fingertips until you have a crumbly mixture which resembles wet sand. Alternatively, you can take the lazy route like I do and do all of this with a KitchenAid using the paddle attachment, taking care to not beat the mixture too much, otherwise you will end up with a mixture which is more powder than crumble. Stir in 3 tablespoons each of light muscovado sugar and vanilla sugar. If you wish to spice it up, you could add a teaspoon or so of ground cinnamon or ground ginger or freshly grated nutmeg … it’s up to you. I often make a double batch of this crumble mixture and store it in a freezer bag in the freezer, meaning that I always have to hand the wherewithal for a fruit crumble.

For a simple, no-fuss rhubarb crumble, simply fill a small bowl or ramekin with some rhubarb compote and sprinkle over a handful of crumble mixture. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190°C (370°F) for about 20-30 minutes until the crumble is golden and the compote underneath is bubbling.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline 11 March 2012 at 4:19 pm

What a beautiful dusky pink colour! I wish rhubarb were affordable here but it is astronomical for the flagging stems you get here. That HTE recipe is gorgeous. Oh and love the background. Haven’t seen you use that one before…really makes the pink stand out.


eat, little bird 11 March 2012 at 10:14 pm

I agree that rhubarb is almost a luxury item – it also extraordinarily expensive here in Switzerland. Thankfully, the produce is very fresh here so it is worth a treat now and then :-) I always look forward to this season and try to cook with rhubarb when I can.


Irene [BAKER/MAKER] 11 March 2012 at 6:39 pm

this is so pretty! (and it looks delicious).


eat, little bird 11 March 2012 at 10:16 pm

Thanks, Irene! It’s a bonus to have something bright pink at the breakfast table and which tastes great :-)


Sam-I-am 12 March 2012 at 10:06 am

Rhubarb entered our lives by ways of my father. He did his Master’s degree in Cornell University, Upstate NY and often indulged there in a Rhubarb Pie with vanilla ice cream on the side. 30 years later, living in London and married to my Mum, he spots the Rhubarb stems and goes into hyper ventilation! Mum had never seen these pink stems before, but soon became apt at making a beautiful Rhubarb pie which the whole family enjoyed. 30 years on, I am standing in the Veg corner of a major supermarket chain here in Beirut and lo and behold fresh RHUBARB is on offer!!!!!! Expensive, yes, Bright pink, yes and no, fresh, if luck is on your side, but Forced Rhubarb it is! Since then I have gone AWOL with it! Nigella’s been my guide, so Rhubarb Crumble from Feats I agree is a winner, Rhubarb Fool (Forever Summer), I loved it but I do not think I perfected it and Rhubarb Muscadet Jelly (HTE), to my horror as I was pouring the mixture into my mold, I realized that said mold was bigger than Nigella’s and so had to make up the difference in volume with more Muscadet poured in, so it came out gorgeous if a bit heady!!! All to be tried again and again, if Rhubarb is still to be found as most people don’t know what it is here and think it is pink celery! Bless them…Back to your elegant post Crème, you just have a way to communicate a great idea with simplicity and great esthetic that it sends one’s mind into over spin, as proven by my endless post! LOL! 😉 Already looking forward to your next installment!


eat, little bird 14 March 2012 at 2:26 pm

Oh I fondly remember our chats about the Rhubarb & Muscat Jelly :-) That is such an impressive dessert.

How wonderful that your father is still able to enjoy the rhubarb pie of his youth! I can’t remember when I first tried rhubarb but my first introduction to forced rhubarb was certainly when I moved to Switzerland, where I suppose the produce is fresher given that it is grown on the continent. Given the price, and also the short season, I do make the most of it, but in moderation!

That’s so funny that most people think rhubarb is simply pink celery! It certainly looks that way and I just love the colour it gives to desserts. Rhubarb Crumble and Rhubarb Fool (both being Nigella’s versions) remain my favourite, though compote has been the easier option for me as of late – simply cook it down, bottle it and enjoy it whenever possible :-)


The Food Sage 12 March 2012 at 11:09 am

Rhubarb. What a wonderful word. It grows wild around the roadsides where my parents live in England. The last time i was home visiting we scavenged some and made rhubarb compote, which i ate with yogurt for breakfast every day. My mam makes a wicked blackberry (also growing wild nearby) & rhubarb crumble and rhubarb and apple pies. Lovely post, your compote looks gorgeous.


eat, little bird 14 March 2012 at 6:46 pm

How lovely to make rhubarb compote from your neighbourhood scavenge! I love that idea. My sister-in-law grows rhubarb and also has a few apple trees – it sounds so idyllic to be able to grow these luscious treats in your garden and to then make some delicious homemade treats from them. Makes me so wish I had a proper garden!


unsorsoallavolta 12 March 2012 at 5:35 pm

Rhubarb is so difficult (and expensive) to find here in Italy that I decided to grow some plants in my vegetable garden. I simply love it, especially in crumbles! I thought its season was spring/summer, though. I’d better check this…
Lovely blog by the way!


eat, little bird 14 March 2012 at 6:49 pm

Thanks for stopping by my blog :-) How lucky you are to grow rhubarb in your garden! I think the season for “normal” rhubarb is sometime in spring, but “forced rhubarb” is produced earlier in the year. You can tell which is the “forced rhubarb” if it has a bright pink colour, whereas “normal” rhubarb has a mix of green and reddish/pink. Both taste delicious but the colour from forced rhubarb is something special.


Anita Menon 12 March 2012 at 5:47 pm

It is a sensual looking pink. Deep and angry. It would look fantastic in any kind of bake that takes rhubarb


eat, little bird 14 March 2012 at 6:50 pm

LOL! It is indeed a very aggressive pink which you don’t often find in food. It is precisely this gorgeous colour that I loved forced rhubarb so much!


Julia Levy 12 March 2012 at 8:58 pm

I’m lucky to live just below Yorkshire, it’s in all our supermarkets and local too, the growing sheds being based there. In fact friends of mine just visited and came home laden. We’re planning a visit ourselves and will be hopefully equally so.

I also like it cooked in the oven foil covered a la nigella so that it retains it’s lovely shape and colour too.


eat, little bird 14 March 2012 at 6:53 pm

Ooh lucky you! I hope that means that rhubarb is a bit cheaper where you live then :-)

Nigella’s roasting/braising method is great and I often do this when making her Rhubarb Fool. Though I haven’t made that in a long time as I think most of my friends would recoil if they knew they were eating essentially whipped cream! Maybe I can just treat myself :-)


Liz Headon 12 March 2012 at 11:01 pm

I adore rhubarb too, but I’m afraid I never buy the forced stuff – it’s just soooo expensive. However, I suppose I would if I was cooking a rhubarb dessert for a celebration meal.


eat, little bird 14 March 2012 at 6:55 pm

I agree that forced rhubarb is an indulgence. I probably buy it a few times when it is in season, mostly when we have guests over, but I find that making a compote means that you can sort of enjoy it for longer. Interestingly, I rarely see normal rhubarb in the supermarkets here, which is probably why I get so excited when I see the forced variety!


serena 14 March 2012 at 3:36 pm

Saturday morning I went to the market. I was looking for rhubarb …. I wanted to do so many things .. but it costs 18 euros per kilo! I settled for a piece to make us a risotto!
anyway .. I love rhubarb! I have to find ways to make it grow on the terrace …


eat, little bird 14 March 2012 at 6:58 pm

You know, I initially mentioned in my post how expensive rhubarb is. But I quickly deleted that sentence because, well, quite frankly, *everything* is expensive in Switzerland! I didn’t quite realise that rhubarb is also expensive everywhere else, LOL!! I bought a large armful of rhubarb the other day, about 1.5kg, and it cost about CHF 25! I didn’t remember it being so expensive in the past, but then I don’t normally buy it in such large quantities.

If you find a way to grow it on the terrace, please let me know! I would also love to grow rhubarb at home … will have to look into that too!


Me And My Sweets 15 March 2012 at 3:19 pm

I love rhubard, very sour though if you don’t add enough sugar! :-) When I was a kid we had rhubarb in our garden and then us kid often just ate it “au naturel” while dipping it in sugar:-) Today I prefer to make a rhubarb crumble with vanilla ice-cream.


eat, little bird 15 March 2012 at 6:19 pm

I have a friend who also has childhood memories of simply dipping rhubarb into a bowl of sugar. What sweet memories to have!


The Flourishing Foodie 15 March 2012 at 10:21 pm

I love raspberry compote. In the summer, I also like to make rhubarb simple syrup. Great in mojitos, and margaritas! Or just add some sparkling water for a non-alcoholic drink.


eat, little bird 20 March 2012 at 6:43 pm

Ooh I love the idea of mixing it with some sparkling water … might just try that!


Jennifer (Delicieux) 17 March 2012 at 12:16 am

Your compote looks so beautiful! I love the beautiful pinkish tinge rhubarb takes on when it’s cooked. It’s so pretty. I have some rhubarb in the fridge, but haven’t decided what I am doing with it yet. I will have to keep this compote in mind 😀


eat, little bird 20 March 2012 at 6:45 pm

Thanks, Jennifer! I also love the gorgeous colour of rhubarb in cooking. I just treated myself to another large bundle today and am thinking of whipping up some into a cake …


Emma 19 March 2012 at 7:59 pm

Looks so yummy. I haven’t seen rhubarb in the supermarket here but your blog has made me want to hunt it down. I just made custard for dessert – rhubarb would be perfect in it!


eat, little bird 20 March 2012 at 6:50 pm

Hoi Emma! Lovely to see you here :-) You’ve got me salivating at the idea of custard with rhubarb!! If you do manage to find rhubarb where you are, hopefully it is still somewhat fresh. I think the final weeks of the forced rhubarb season is coming to a close so I treated myself to some today and will get busy in the kitchen over the next few days :-)


Denise 19 March 2012 at 10:11 pm

Gorgeous: the smell and colour of rhubarb is just perfect in spring. This would be lovely with some thick greek yogurt:)


eat, little bird 20 March 2012 at 6:52 pm

One of my favourite ways of eating rhubarb compote is with Greek yoghurt, something I was addicted to when I lived in Australia. I used to buy it in 500g pots and it would disappear in just a few days!


Hannah de Bevy de La Faverge 22 March 2012 at 8:47 pm

I adore Rhubarb and often buy the ready made Bonne Maman Compot to have with yogurt. Will certainly have a go at making my own. How long do you think it would last in the fridge Creme? Presumably one could sterilise the jars and it would keep in the cupboard for longer?

I was hoping to find some today as I saw a Delia recipe for Rhubarb and Crumble ice cream which looked so good and so simple. Alas I couldn’t find any!


eat, little bird 23 March 2012 at 11:16 am

Hi Hannah! I used to also buy the Bonne Maman compote whenever we were in France, mostly for the lovely jars! Although they sell Bonne Maman jam in Switzerland, they don’t sell the compote, but making your own is so so easy.

We go through a large jar of compote within a few days so I don’t always bother to sterilise the jars, unless I know that it’s going to be in the fridge for a few weeks. I think compote keeps well in the fridge for anywhere up to 3 weeks in a sterilised jar. I wouldn’t leave it outside of the fridge as it won’t keep very well.

I hope you will find some rhubarb soon – rhubarb and crumble ice-cream sounds absolutely delicious!!! I made some rhubarb crumble last night for dessert, making sure there was some leftover for breakfast this morning :-)


Hannah de Bevy de La Faverge 23 March 2012 at 1:56 pm

Ah Rhubarb crumble is the best isn’t it!


eat, little bird 23 March 2012 at 3:17 pm

I love any fruit crumble, but given the short forced rhubarb season, it feels like a real treat!


meatballs & milkshakes 29 March 2012 at 9:57 pm

This compote looks delicious! I made some last spring and it was so wonderful in such a variety of uses!


eat, little bird 30 March 2012 at 10:32 pm

Oh I agree that rhubarb compote is really versatile. Whenever I make a batch, it’s usually finished within a few days! I think my favourite way of eating rhubarb compote is with a good serving of Greek yoghurt. That said, I’ve made rhubarb crumble using compote quite a few times in recent weeks!


Lizz Casey 23 August 2014 at 9:16 am


I was wondering if you can keep the rhubarb compote longer, as in a whole winter? And not keep it in the fridge but in the cellar?
Your recipe looks fantastic.

Lizz :)


Eat, Little Bird 23 August 2014 at 10:16 am

Due to the low sugar content, this rhubarb compote would keep for maybe only 3-4 days in the fridge. If you wanted to make something which would keep for longer, I would suggest making something like a rhubarb jam. Hope this helps!


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