Rhubarb -Recipes, Picking and Growing Tips
is a cool weather crop, which appears in the late Spring. The stalks are the
edible portion, never eaten raw (too acidic), but cooked and sweetened, they
have a flavor much like strawberries.
The stalks that grow from energy stored in the roots the previous
year are the part that is harvested. After picking stalks for a few
weeks, the plants must be left for the rest of the growing season to
recover and save energy for the next year.
Strawberries are usually ripe about the same time as rhubarb, and
since the two flavors compliment each other so well, many recipes
combine them. One thing rhubarb does not like: prolonged periods of
hot, humid weather. It is really difficult to grow rhubarb in
the deep South (unless you plant it as an annual, planting new roots
early each Spring).
Rhubarb Recipes, Canning and Freezing Rhubarb
Most people prefer smaller stems (12 inches to 18inches long. The
larger, fatter stems can be tough and fibrous, which is worse during
summer heat and drought.
Tips on How to Pick Rhubarb
Pick only the best Rhubarb:
Select firm stalks, nothing wilted.
Grasp the stalk near the base of the plant
- Twist the the stalk in a
rotating motion gently, but firmly until you feel; the stalk separate. Or,
if the farm prefers, cut the stalks an inch or two above the base.
- Do not
remove more than one third of the leaves from a plant at one time.
Immediately remove the poisonous leaves from the stalk, discard them in the
Rhubarb Facts, Measurements and Tips
Rhubarb is a fruit, not a vegetable
According to a 1947 NY court!
Rhubarb festivals: Most areas that grow rhubarb have a
Rhubarb festival, at which you
can taste all kinds of fresh Rhubarb foods, pies, jams, cakes - and most
commonly, fresh Rhubarb shortcake. To find out where and when there
is one near you, see this
page for a list of Rhubarb festivals, sorted by state!
- Rhubarb measurements:
2 lbs. of chopped stalks is
about 4 cups.
- The stalks are the only edible part of the plant; in
fact, the leaves of rhubarb are poisonous. The leaves
contain the high concentrations of oxalic acid, which gives the
rhubarb it's astringent taste. So don't let your children or
pets eat the leaves. I usually twist the leaves off the
stalk and throw them on the ground to become mulch.
- One cup of Rhubarb contains only about 50 calories
- U-pick Rhubarb are much healthier than store-bought. Consumer
reports says store bought Rhubarb have so many pesticide and fungicide
residues on they, that they don't recommend you eat them at all!
Rhubarb has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal plant by the
- Want to grow your own Rhubarb? Here's an article about how
Rhubarb is an Excellent Fruit for the Home Garden
- See this page for many
more fun and interesting
Rhubarb facts, nutritional information and trivia
Before you leave to go to the farm:
Always call before you go to the farm - Rhubarb are affected by weather
(both rain and cooler temperature) more than most crops. And when they are
in season, a large turnout can pick a field clean before noon, so CALL
early. On weekends, then fields may be picked clean by NOON!
Some growers furnish picking containers designed
for Rhubarb, but they may charge you for them; be sure to call before you go to see if you need to bring
Plastic dishpans make good containers.
Bring something to drink and a few snacks; you'd be surprised how you can
work up a thirst and appetite! And don't forget hats and sunscreen for the
sun. Bugs usually aren't a problem, but some deet might be good to bring
along if it has been rainy.
When you get home
- Refrigerate, they'll stay good for about a week or two, but the fresher,
- Do not wash the stalks, just wrap in plastic wrap. .
- Freeze any that you do not plan to use within a week.
It is easy to blanch and freeze
rhubarb. See this page.
Growing your own Rhubarb
- Before planting, eliminate all weeds, especial persistent
invasive weeds, like Bermuda grass, nutsedge, etc.
- Choose a site that is sunny, well-drained, with a loose
loamy soil. Rhubarb does not like the shade nor sitting in
- Plant rhubarb crowns in early spring as soon as the ground
can be worked.
- Some varieties of Rhubarb can be planted in the fall after
they have gone dormant. (check with the nursery)
- Dig large holes and work in compost. Rhubarb plants are
- Space rhubarb plants about 3 or 4 feet apart and plant
the crowns 1 to 2 inches below the surface of the soil.
- Mulch with a heavy layer of straw, compost and rotted manure
- Water and weed your plant well.
- Remove seed stalks as soon as they appear.
There are two common types of rhubarb, those with bright red
stalks (like Crimson Red) and those whose stalks are mostly green.
They taste about the same, but most people prefer the red.I
bought my crowns from Indian Berry; I've found them to be
reliable and provide large crowns. (I have no affiliation with them)
- Canada Red (extra sweet)
- Cherry Red (red inside and out)
- Crimson Red (slimmer diameter red stalks) (photo of plant
- MacDonald (tender skin; bright red)
- Valentine (good flavor)
- Victoria (green with red tint - see photo at right)