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Rhubarb

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Preview of Rhubarb

Available

May 15 - June 30

Harvest Period

May 15 - June 30

Rhubarb is a vegetable with a unique taste that makes it a favorite in many pies and desserts. It was initially cultivated for its medicinal qualities. Rhubarb is often commonly mistaken for a fruit, but it is actually a close relative of garden sorrel and therefore a vegetable. The rhubarb leaves contain high amounts of oxalic acid, a toxic and potentially deadly poison, so only the stems are edible.

 

What to Look For

 

When buying rhubarb choose fresh, crisp stalks with good, red colour. One pound of fresh rhubarb contains 3-5 stalks, and will yield ¾ cup when cooked.

 

Cleaning and Preparation

 

Before using, peel off any stringy covering, discard any leaves and trim the ends. Stand the stalks in cold water for an hour or so to refresh them before cooking.

 

Always use a non-reactive pan for cooking this high-acid plant, such as anodized aluminum, stainless steel, Teflon-coated aluminum or enamel-coated cast iron cookware. Rhubarb cooked in aluminum, iron, or copper will turn an unappetizing brown color as the metal interacts with acids in the fruit.

 

Storage

 

The stalks can be stored for 2-4 weeks in the refrigerator.

 

When freezing rhubarb, choose tender, well-coloured stalks with good flavour and few fibers. Wash, trim and cut into desired lengths. To help retain colour and flavour, blanch the rhubarb in boiling water for 1 minute and cool promptly in cold water. Lay rhubarb pieces on a flat tray and place in freezer until frozen. The pieces can then be packaged into freezer bags and will not clump together.

 

Nutritional Information

 

Nutritionally, rhubarb is low in calories but very acidic. While sugar can offset the acidity, it also increases the caloric count. Although rhubarb is 95 percent water, it is a good source of amount of vitamin C and an excellent source of vitamin K. While rhubarb is a good source of calcium, it is bound by oxalic acid and therefore not easily absorbed by the body.

 

One cup of raw rhubarb provides 26 calories, 0g fat, 6g carbohydrate, 2g dietary fiber, and 1g protein.

 

How to Use 

 

Rhubarb adds a zippy signature to pies, tarts, ice cream toppings, and beverages. Rhubarb requires sweetening to minimize the extreme tartness, and has therefore been traditionally used in desserts. But don’t discount rhubarb in cooking—it blends well with onions, ginger, coriander, raspberry vinegar, orange zest or cinnamon in sauces for meats and fish.