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How the rhubarb became a Maine kitchen staple

It is not too much of an exaggeration to make a case that rhubarb, that earliest of springtime perennials, is the ultimate New England plant.

Just consider: rhubarb is both hardy and stubborn, and once established in our rocky soil, it is there for the duration. A traipse around Maine fields may well turn up the sites of once-proud farmhouses, all but vanished except for the foundation stones and the rhubarb patch. And rhubarb, so sour it’ll make your mouth pucker, is an acquired taste.

It needs a lot of sweetening to make it delicious, but for those that love it, part of the excitement of spring is the chance to use rhubarb’s sour-sweet, stringy stalks in pies, crisps, coffee cakes, shrubs and much more.

[Tips to grow rhubarb in Maine]

“If anybody can make a rhubarb taste good, it’s got to be a Yankee,” Sandy Oliver, Maine food historian and longtime BDN cooking columnist, said. “They’re not going to give up.”

The Fiddlehead Focus/St. John Valley Times is pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “How the rhubarb became a Maine kitchen staple,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Abigail Curtis, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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