Rhubarb and Rose Compote

by Kristin on May 9, 2012

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed last week and saw a photo from New York City of bunches of rhubarb piled high at a farmers’ market. ‘Rhubarb is at the Greenmarket!’ the caption read. ‘Just one stall is selling it. Get here quick before it sells out.’ Commenters on the photo were rushing over to get some, with one eventually saying, ‘I got the last bunch!’

After a long, dark winter, rhubarb is one of the first things to come back to life in the garden. While people in Manhattan might be dropping everything to get their hands on some, it’s old news in Ireland by now — it’s been in the markets since February. When I see it in the shops again, I like to make a quick and easy compote* before the inevitable crumbles, tarts or cake. The rose water makes this compote heady and exotic and is a nice change from the usual pairings with ginger or citrus. I think the rhubarb and rose combination would also make a gorgeous jam.

This compote is endlessly versatile. Spoon it over granola and yoghurt for breakfast or vanilla ice cream for dessert, serve it alongside a plain panna cotta or shortbread, fold it into whipped cream to make a fool or even strain it and use the syrup for an elegant rhubarb and rose Bellini. If you want to brighten it up a little, try adding a squeeze of lime juice. No matter what you do with it, enjoy one of the first tastes of spring.

*Love compote? Try this gooseberry and elderflower compote when the berries and flowers are in season soon.

Rhubarb and Rose Compote

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) rhubarb
75 g (1/3 cup) sugar
2 tablespoons rose water

Top and tail the rhubarb and cut it into 3 cm (1 inch) pieces. Place the rhubarb, sugar and rose water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the rhubarb is tender. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. This will keep in the fridge for 1 week stored in an airtight container.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Parisbug May 9, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Mmm, my senses perked up at the rose water combo! My rhubarb is stunted this year, I think because of all the rain & cold? Weird that it’s been out chez vous since February? The new house had a MASSIVE rhubarb growing, sadly I’m sure it’ll be gone by the time we move in, but I’ve filed this away for next Spring…Merci! :-)


Kate Harwood June 20, 2015 at 10:08 pm

It’s because in the UK, and Ireland too I imagine, we eat forced rhubarb from January. Traditionally grown in candlelit sheds and a big thing in Yorkshire it comes to the shops very slender and pink and is a real tonic after Christmas food. The rhubarb around late spring is grown outdoors and is that mottled pink-green colour with coarser texture and taste


Liza in Ann Arbor May 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Oooh…I like the idea of the bellini! And I just the other day spotted rose water in my grocery store.


Thanh @ eat, little bird May 11, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Oh I love anything with rhubarb, especially rhubarb compote. This version with rosewater sounds really wonderful!


katy July 12, 2012 at 12:05 am

I just stumbled upon your blog while looking for a way to use up the rhubarb I bought last night at the store and I love it! Thanks for the recipe!


Kristin July 12, 2012 at 7:58 am

Thanks so much for visiting, Katy! Hope you enjoy the recipe.


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