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Archive for April, 2015

Deep Red Stalks of Rhubarb

Beautiful red stalks of Rhubarb are here!  Rhubarb is a perennial plant and is often thought to be a fruit but it is actually a close relative of the garden sorrel and a member of the vegetable family.   Its medicinal uses have been recorded in history since ancient China.

Rhubarb leaves grow from the ground in early spring.  The stalks can grow up to 18 inches long but don’t eat the green leaves of the plant, they are highly poisonous!  Rhubarb’s crisp sour stalks are rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber and calcium.  My new favorite recipe is a rhubarb shake. 

Rhubarb Shake

Earl’s Reduces Paper Towel Use by 48%

In an effort to reduce our paper towel consumption, in October we installed electric hand dryers in our bathrooms.

Since their installation, we have reduced our monthly paper towel consumption by

48%

 Paper Towel Use Graph 2015

The production of paper requires an enormous amount of energy to cut down trees, transport them to a facility, process them, turn them into paper, and transport the towels to their final destination. In fact, the amount of energy it requires to produce two paper towels is 15 times as much energy as is required to dry one’s hands with Earl’s energy efficient hand dryer model. See the graph below:

Hand Dryer kWh Use Graph 2015

That’s like NOT burning 135 GALLONS of gasoline every year. 

135 Gallons Gasoline

Image by Yazmin Alanis from the Noun Project

Rhubarb Is More Than The Pie Plant

The arrival of shiny crimson red rhubarb is yet another sign that spring has arrived. It is a hearty vegetable that thrives in cooler climates and originally came by way of China, Russia and Mongolia where it was first used as a medicinal herb to treat a variety of illnesses. Rhubarb made its debut in the United States in the late 18th century when Luther Burbank, a world-renowned horticulturist, developed a deep red variety that thrived in much of California’s climate.  Rhubarb grows best in the northern regions of the United States.  It can be found grown on a commercial level in Oregon, Washington and Michigan. Rhubarb from the Pacific Northwest is all field grown and the season runs from late March until the end of June.  The Michigan season begins in April with hothouse grown rhubarb and later moves to field grown.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb is very weather dependent and needs a summer temperature of 75° or below for maximum production. Once the temperatures reach 90° or above the plant will start to wilt. Rhubarb is a perennial herb grown from a crown, similar to asparagus, and will continue to produce up to 15 years.

Warning!
Only eat the leaf stalks or petioles. This is one vegetable where you do not want to use the whole plant. The leaves can grow to be extremely large and due to their high levels of oxalic acid they are considered poisonous.

How to buy
Look for bright red stalks which have a sweet rich flavor. The size of the stalk is not an indicator of tenderness!

Storage and Cooking
Wrap loosely in plastic and store in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Do not keep for more than a few days or it will start to dry out. Rhubarb is very tart and acidic and needs honey or sugar to transform it into a delicious dessert or savory dish. It goes great with seafood, chicken or pork. Everyone has heard of strawberry rhubarb pie but how about a rhubarb shake topped with chopped pistachios?  Share your favorite rhubarb recipes on our Facebook page.

Rhubarb Shake

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