Collaborations are fun. We've currently been working with rhubarb as an ingredient in our chocolate, but realized we really didn't know anything about it!! Earliest records date back to 2700 BC in China where rhubarb was cultivated for medicinal purposes (its purgative qualities). According to Lindley's Treasury of Botany, the technical name of the genus (Rheum) is said to be derived from Rha, the ancient name of the Volga, on whose banks the plants grow. There were those who called it Rha Ponticum, and others Rheum or Rha-barbarum. Others derive the name from the Greek rheo ('to flow'), in allusion to the purgative properties of the root. One of the most famous pharmacologists of ancient times the Greek Discorides, spoke of a root known as "rha" or "rheon" which came from the Bosphorus (the winding strait that separates Europe and Asia).
Fortunately we haven't been making chocolate with the root, as it happens to be pretty bitter and is much better infused as a tea. The "Fruit" of rhubarb wasn't recorded to be eaten until 1777. Weird huh? Rhubarb as a food was only barely known when the US gained its independence from Britain. So what's the deal with Strawberry Rhubarb pies?
Early records of rhubarb in America identify an unnamed Maine gardener as having obtained seed or root stock from Europe in the period between 1790-1800. He introduced it to growers in Massachusetts where its popularity spread and by 1822 it was sold in produce markets.
So it's rather perfect that we decided to collaborate with a business in Cape Cod! We decided to make a rhubarb chocolate bar with Paul John Kearins of Chocolatasm.
Visit Chocolatasm's Site! (https://chocolatasm.com/the-chocolatier/)
Paul and I were trying to figure out an easy way to integrate rhubarb stalk into chocolate. I'd tried with dehydrated rhubarb in the past, but it turned out to be too gummy (residual moisture content). Paul told me he'd been working with freeze-dried rhubarb from Germany. So I ordered some of that and it worked out great! Ground into our fruity, vintage Lachua origin of chocolate, the two pair deliciously.