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Step Inside the Magical World of An Ancient Tradition: Growing Rhubarb by Candlelight

A centuries-old tradition of harvesting rhubarb by candlelight has been captured in this series of otherworldly photographs.


Farmer’s great-uncle Jonathan Westwood started the tradition of harvesting forced rhubarb in winter in northern England in 1870.

Now, 59-year-old Jonathan is the last in his family to grow rhubarb in a nine-square-mile area called the Yorkshire ‘Rhubarb Triangle’.

He took the reins of the business from his father 15 years ago and painstakingly picks vegetables by hand, by candlelight, after a unique growing process.

Rhubarb is left in the fields for two years without being harvested, with all the sugars stored within the root.

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Then the farmer moves the harvest to pitch black sheds. In such conditions, all of the plant’s energy is directed to the stem, creating a much sweeter taste than usual.


To ensure that they cannot photosynthesize, rhubarb is collected using the lowest lighting conditions: by candlelight, with the doors closed.


Few farms continue to grow rhubarb in this traditional way, but the method is highly regarded by foodies, with over 300 tons of rhubarb being shipped to high-end grocery stores each season, and even Buckingham Palace. , and potentially, the queen’s plate.

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West Yorkshire is believed to have once produced 90% of the world’s winter forced rhubarb from forced sheds within the Rhubarb Triangle.


What is produced on these farms today is protected by the European Commission’s Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), as are other regional delicacies such as French champagne and Italian Parma ham.

SHARE the rhubarb method by candlelight with all the Cobbler fans in your life …

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