RHUBARB – apparently – is not a fruit but a vegetable. This assertion is made in numerous gardening books, conflicting a US Customs Court ruling in Buffalo, New York State, back in 1947, that Rheum rhabarbarum was most definitely a fruit – so I’m happy with that.
I cannot quite see it as a veg, as rhubarb pies and preserves are always sweetened with sugar for a fruity feel.
So let’s compromise by saying it’s technically a veg but is legally considered a fruit. And who are we to argue with those in Trump-land?
Over here, D T Brown has been at the forefront of rhubarb breeding. They were the first to introduce Livingstone, the original autumn cropping variety several years ago and recently launched Poulton’s Pride which crops for up to ten months of the year.
Now DTB claims to offer one of the sweetest varieties customers can buy.
Poulton’s Red is a brand new challenger, the latest in day-neutral breeding and is their sweetest rhubarb yet. Remarkable in trials for its vigour and deep green leaves, the most eye-catching feature was the bright red, stringless stems – the strongest red the company has ever seen.
Rhubarb is close to DTB’s hearts and the firm’s exclusive Poulton’s Pride is proving very popular with customers. Named after D T Brown’s hometown of Poulton-le-Fylde in Lancashire, Poulton’s Pride is British-bred and was first discovered at a grower’s trial a couple of years ago.
A few stems were bought back to cook and taste and DTB was astonished at how deliciously sweet the rosy red-flushed stems were, complete with a totally unique taste with traces of almond, pineapple and banana coming to the fore followed by just a hint of characteristic sharpness.
D T Brown’s general manager Tim Jeffries says: “I was tremendously excited to see such deep red stems in the trials because with rhubarb, generally, the redder the stem the sweeter the taste and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
“The flavour of Poulton’s Red is the sweetest I’ve ever tasted . . . and we’ve tasted quite a few!”
Not only does Poulton’s Pride have a fabulous flavour, it will keep on cropping and cropping because it doesn’t go dormant in summer like other rhubarb varieties. This dormancy has been bred out so gardeners can enjoy harvesting from as early as February – if forced – and continue through to November. And that’s ten months of the year.
Supplied as strong young plants in 9cm pots, unlike normal rhubarbs you’ll even get a small crop this year in late summer to early autumn. Three plants are sufficient to give you a good crop over such a long period.
They are available to buy right now. A 9cm potted plant costs £7.95, but customers can go for three plants for £15.90, saving £7.95. Plants will be delivered from mid-May.
⏩⏩➡» To order plants or request a copy of the Fruit & Vegetables Grower’s Seed & Plant Catalogue 2019, call 0845 3710532 or go to www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk
⏩⏩➡» Never eat or cook the leaves of rhubarb as they are filled with oxalic acid and, as such, are highly toxic.
⏩⏩➡» Supreme sticks: Top – a basket of Poulton’s Red; above – sticks of its close relative, Poulton’s Pride.