Pic of Simple poached rhubarb

Simple poached rhubarb

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Simple poached rhubarb

Serves 4 20 min
Rhubarb is always sharp and astringent when raw, so is almost always cooked down with some sugar to temper it. How much sugar can be up to you, but we’d suggest that the sharpness is all part of rhubarb’s charm, so you should use a modest amount; just enough to take the edge off. Rhubarb is also very easy to overcook, and can lose its shape quickly. This is fine if you just want some stewed rhubarb to dollop on your breakfast, but not if you want to keep shapely pieces for a photogenic dessert or salad. The trick is to cook it gently then remove it from the heat just before it’s tender, lettingthe declining heat of the pan finish it to perfection.

Cook's notes

Some thin slices of beetroot will add a great pink colour to your rhubarb, without bringing any strong flavour to the pan. It makes it look like the early bright pink forced rhubarb. You can add a little spice into the pan too if you fancy. A few slices of fresh ginger will add a little warmth, or try a little cinnamon, start anise, cardamom, or even black pepper if it seems fitting.


  • 500g rhubarb
  • 4 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 thin slices of beetroot – optional (see cook’s notes)
Image of Simple poached rhubarb


Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 10 min
  • Step 1

    Trim the rhubarb and cut it into 3cm pieces. Split any wide pieces in half, lengthways, so that all the pieces are a roughly even size.
  • Step 2

    Pull the zest from the oranges into long strips with a potato peeler. Juice the oranges too.
  • Step 3

    Place the zest, juice and sugar into a large wide-based saucepan or casserole. Add the rhubarb and beetroot slices (if using), spreading them out so you have an even covering in the pan. Cover and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook gently for 5-6 minutes, until the rhubarb is starting to soften but still holds its shape. Remove from the heat and leave it to cool with the lid on.
  • Step 4

    When cool the rhubarb should be tender but still holding its shape. If it is still a little undercooked, pop it back on the heat for a few minutes to nudge it over the line. If the rhubarb is a bit too sharp for your tastes, you can always add a little more sugar.
  • Step 5

    This will store well in the fridge for 3-4 days.

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