Did you know that some rhubarb is grown in darkness and harvested by candlelight in West Yorkshire? It’s true! Thanks to this ‘dark art’, you can enjoy especially sweet and tender rhubarb on the Manor House menu right now.

Most people know rhubarb as a vegetable (often consumed as a fruit) that grows naturally outdoors, for harvest in late spring and early summer. But in the famous Rhubarb Triangle of West Yorkshire, the tradition of ‘forced rhubarb’ has developed over the past 140 years to provide early-season produce prized for its rich colour and delicate flavour.

One of the region’s highly regarded growers is Robert Tomlinson, who works the family farm established by his great-grandfather in Pudsey, between Leeds and Bradford.

Using techniques passed down from his granddad and dad, Robert first plants the rhubarb outdoors to establish roots, before transferring the roots indoors to fully darkened growing sheds, heated to the perfect temperature for the rhubarb to develop.

The darkness prevents photosynthesis, and keeps the rhubarb stalks sweet and tender, with a deep pink colour. Light is kept to a minimum throughout, with even harvesting done by candlelight. It’s labour-intensive work that involves long hours, but the result is worth it.

In fact, the European Commission has given the Rhubarb Triangle – an area of just nine square miles – Protected Designation of Origin status, meaning it is the only place that can use the term ‘Yorkshire forced rhubarb’. You could say it’s the Champagne of rhubarb!

The Manor House team, who visited the  Tomlinson farm to see the rhubarb by candlelight, prefer to think of it as ‘romantic rhubarb’, and will be treating it with the care and respect it deserves when it appears on this season’s Lantern Room restaurant menu.

The Manor House is a luxury boutique hotel within a renovated Georgian manor, in the heart of Lindley, Huddersfield. The Lantern Room is its signature three-Rosette restaurant, where fresh local produce is showcased in relaxed and elegant surroundings. Book by clicking here.