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Thanks Chicago!

For voting us Best Neighborhood Grocery Store in the Chicago Reader poll two years running! 

Produce Corner: Rhubarb

The Produce Corner is a column by farmer and Dill Pickle owner Rob Montalbano. Here Rob shares info on some of his favorite in-season veggies including history, cooking ideas and storage tips. Rob lives and works with his wife Christina on their farm in Sandwich, IL.

Over the years, many plants have come and gone for me. But I will never forget my very first love. She was a rhubarb. Tall and slender with thick, red stalks. Leaves as dark green as can be with pink streaks. Snippy but sweet and both at the same time. She was strong and tough and came back to me, loyally, year after year after year. I miss that rhubarb.

It is definitely one of the favorites on the farm too. Rhubarb is a perennial, bringing forth its bounty for many seasons. It’s beautiful. Red and green stalks support a canopy of leaves that can stretch almost 2 feet long. On top of that, it’s one of our earliest crops. Harvesting fresh rhubarb in mid April reminds us all of nature’s delicacy and generosity.

Rhubarb brings conflict, however. While the stalks are the focus of many delicious desserts, the leaves are, in fact, quite poisonous. Owing to its tart flavor and fibrous nature, rhubarb most often appears in dessert recipes. Rhubarb pies, crumb bars, tarts, muffins and jams fill the early gardeners pantry. It combines well with the first fruits of the season and often is paired with strawberries and raspberries.

Store rhubarb unwashed and wrapped in a damp towel or plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator. Look for firm, crisp stalks. If you buy too much, you can freeze rhubarb and enjoy it during those hot summer months.

Say Hello to the Pickle Nickel

Help the environment and your community by bringing your own shopping bags! Each time you provide your own bags, we'll give you a Pickle Nickel to drop in a bin benefiting one of three charities. We'll rotate recipient organizations every six months. This inaugural round of the Pickel Nickel program will benefit:

  • The Greater Chicago Food Depository: Chicago's biggest network of shelters and food pantries that distributes food to area residents in need.
  • SOS Children's Village Illinois: helps children whose world has been turned upside down by parental abuse, neglect, or abandonment. SOS offers them a place to call home and space to heal.
  • PAWS Chicago: Chicago's most vocal advocate for pet adoption and the humane treatment of animals.

The Brine - Spring 2013

Read about the Field Museum's edible garden, get the latest word on the expansion effort from board prez Lisa Junkin and pick up a killer oatmeal berry crisp recipe. Plus co-op finance 101, herbal detox recommendations and a profile of mushroom maestros River Valley Ranch. All in our (late) Spring issue of The Brine. Click here or on the link at left to download the full issue.

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