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Sweet cicely, rhubarb and ginger compote

sweet cicely in vase Sweet cicely is a thug here. It looks beautiful, the ferny leaves, the white flowers that shimmer in the dappled shade, the sweet, fresh scent that gives it its name.

I planted some seeds at the back of the poly tunnel, a few more under the beech hedge by the front. Now it is so rampant that it has to be hacked back from the border where it is smothering tulips and peonies, it outgrows the grass in the paths by the cutting patch.

The seeds - a few always seem to escape my chopping - launch themselves like torpedoes, wedging their tips into crevices at the heart of plants and only appearing once the damage is done.

sweet cicely in garden

And yet . . . and yet . . . as with so many badly behaved plants, it has to be forgiven. It is so perfect for spring - so light and fresh and optimistic

This year I plan to keep it under control by eating as much of it as possible. I began with rhubarb and ginger compote - sweet cicely is meant to reduce the amount of sugar needed as it has a natural sweetness.

sweet cicely in garden

Rhubarb, ginger and sweet cicely compote.

Ingredients -

  • good bunch of rhubarb, 5 or 7 medium stems
  • 5 cm piece of ginger
  • good handful of sweet cicely leaves and stems
  • 25g sugar/honey

Slice up the rhubarb into 2 cm slices (approximately)

Peel and grate the ginger

Finely chop the sweet cicely

Put into pan with sugar and thoroughly mix together.

Leave for ten minutes before putting on a low heat, keep stirring. Ideally you want the rhubarb to give off enough liquid and stew in its own juice - a careful low cooking should do that. If you are worried that it is all going to burn you can add a small amount of water or orange juice to start it off (maximum 1 tablespoon).

After about 10-15 minutes the rhubarb should be beginning to go soft - take off heat and leave to cool.

I love this with yoghurt for breakfast. You can also mix it with equal amounts of whipped cream to make rhubarb fool.

You can download the recipe card here

PDF for sweet Cicely preserve

A note on cutting sweet cicely flowers - they droop dramatically when you put them in water and look as though they are a lost cause - leave them somewhere cool overnight and they will probably recover and then last about a week.

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Moira Anderson

What is a good bunch of rhubarb? Can you approximate the number of cups? Thanks!