Rhubarb is a sweet, tart, tender stem vegetable, commonly used in puddings, desserts, pies and crumbles. In fact, in America, rhubarb used to be known as "the pie fruit" (rhubarb is classed as a fruit in the United States but as a vegetable elsewhere in the world), simply because it used to be most commonly baked into pies. Nowadays, rhubarb is used in many other recipes and is often found in some surprising flavour combinations - baked into cakes with nutmeg or cinnamon, or cooked down with herbs and served with oven-baked mackerel. Take a look at the recipes below for a fresh take on this delicious, nutritious and super versatile veg.

Rhubarb only used to be available at certain times of the year, as it can only be grown at certain temperatures. Now, due to the practice of hothousing - growing rhubarb in heated greenhouses - it is widely available year-round across much of the world. In the UK, the first rhubarb crop of the year is cultivated by candlelight in buildings known as \"forcing sheds\", where all other light is excluded. Although rhubarb does thrive in areas of direct sunlight, growing rhubarb in the shade - or in the dark - can produce a stalk that is redder, sweeter and more tender.

Rhubarb has also been used for medicinal purposes in China for thousands of years to treat a wide range of ailments, but it also has cathartic and laxative properties - meaning that it is often used as a natural remedy for constipation.

Make the most of this lovely vegetable with some of these fantastic recipes. We've got everything from rhubarb and custard cake (made with real custard) to rhubarb vodka, rhubarb and vanilla jam to rhubarb and ginger cobbler and rhubarb curd to rhubarb and egg custard tart - enough to get you through this year's crop of rhubarb and then some!