How to freeze rhubarb?

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It’s rhubarb season! And with the glut about at the moment, it makes sense to freeze a load for future use.

Happily, these gorgeous pink sticks freeze very well with minimal effort – so you’re never too far from a crumble, pie or pavlova.

To freeze

Make sure your rhubarb is fresh looking, crisp and blemish free. If the stalks are fibrous, peel off the tough outer fibres. Clean under cold running water.

Next, cut the lengths into rough 2.5cm (1in) pieces.

MORE: The best rhubarb recipes from cheescake to crumble

To blanch or not to blanch?

Before freezing rhubarb, you can blanch it to help preserve colour and flavour – this is recommended if you’re planing on keeping the rhubarb frozen for more than three months.

But it can also be frozen without blanching.

MORE: Rhubarb crumble cake recipe

To blanch

Cook your cleaned and chopped rhubarb in a pan of boiling water for 1min.

Drain and immediately plunge into iced water to stop the cooking and set the colour. Drain again and spread on kitchen paper to dry.

Next comes another decision – will you want to decant smaller quantities of your frozen rhubarb, or use the whole amount in one go?

MORE: How to make rhubarb pavlova

If the latter, then you can just pack your chopped (and blanched, if done) rhubarb into a freezer bag or freezer-proof container. This will freeze as a solid mass, but defrost well for use in recipes.

If you want to be able to grab out handfuls of frozen rhubarb (and not use the whole amount), then its best to open-freeze the chopped (and blanched, if done) rhubarb pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.

Once frozen (about 2hr) pack into a freezer bag or freezer-proof container.

Freeze for up to 9 months. Defrost at room temperature or in the fridge and use as desired!

MORE: How to make rhubarb martinis

MORE: How to make rhubarb fool

(Pictures: Getty)

Learn the easiest way to freeze fresh rhubarb to use later with a simple technique that takes just minutes to do!

How to Freeze Rhubarb

The rhubarb plant we have in our garden always surprises me when it’s ready—and I’m not always ready to use it. To make sure it stays fresh and I can put it to use when I have time, I use this easy method to freeze it for future use in pies, crisps, cobblers, and/or jam.

Do you have to blanch rhubarb to freeze it?

You can freeze fresh rhubarb raw, so there’s no need to blanch it first. And you can put it directly into recipes straight from the freezer too!

How long is rhubarb good in the freezer?

You can store rhubarb in the freezer for up to 6 months, which means you can save it until you have plenty of strawberries to pair it with—or until you are ready to bake a pie.

Fresh rhubarb stalks and leaves.

How to Freeze Rhubarb Step-by-Step

Here’s a look at the easy process of freezing rhubarb.

  1. Pick your rhubarb. (Or pick up a bunch from the farmer’s market or store.)
  2. Discard the leaves if the stalks have leaves.
  3. Wash well and trim any rough ends. Slice into thin pieces.
  4. Place into a zip top freezer bag and press flat to remove as much air as possible and to spread the rhubarb out in one even layer. Seal.
  5. Place bag onto a small baking sheet and freeze for at least 4 hours.

Diced fresh rhubarb.

At this point, you can remove the baking sheet and store the bag of frozen rhubarb flat, or upright.

TIP: The pieces are now individually frozen and won’t stick together, so you can measure it out frozen to use in recipes.

Fresh rhubarb in freezer bag.

How to Use Frozen Rhubarb

You can use frozen rhubarb just as you would fresh in your favorite recipes for jam, cobblers, crisps, pies, and muffins.

Best Rhubarb Recipes

Here are some of my favorite rhubarb recipes to put your frozen rhubarb to use.

  • Rhubarb Blueberry Cobbler
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
  • Homemade Rhubarb Crisp
  • Rhubarb Upside Down Cake
  • Rhubarb Muffins with Streusel

I’d love to hear how you like to use your rhubarb, so please comment below to share!

Use this method when you have too much fresh rhubarb to use at once, or you’d like to save your fresh fruit to use later.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch fresh rhubarb

Instructions

  1. Pick your rhubarb. (Or pick up a bunch from the farmer’s market or store.)
  2. Discard the leaves if the stalks have leaves.
  3. Wash well and trim any rough ends. Slice into thin pieces.
  4. Place into a zip top freezer bag and press flat to remove as much air as possible and to spread the rhubarb out in one even layer. Seal.
  5. Place bag onto a small baking sheet and freeze for at least 4 hours.

Notes

You can freeze multiple bunches at once, just be sure that the amount you add to the freezer bag can be spread in one even layer to make it easy to measure out the frozen fruit when you’re ready to use it.

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If you have tons of rhubarb, one of the easiest ways to preserve it is to freeze it. Here’s how I freeze rhubarb so that I can use it in various recipes throughout the year .

I like to freeze chopped rhubarb pieces on a tray before putting them in freezer baggies so I can easily pour out whatever quantity I want – no need to premeasure before freezing.

Rhubarb is also one of those veggies (yes, rhubarb is technically a veggie not a fruit) that can be frozen without blanching. That’s why freezing rhubarb takes no time at all.

Here’s the recipe followed by a photo guide if you’re a more visual person.

Freezing Rhubarb

A quick and easy way to freeze rhubarb without blanching, pre-measuring or simple syrups. Frozen rhubarb pieces are versatile to use in many recipes throughout the year.

  • Rhubarb
  • Cut leaves and tail ends from stalks. Compost.
  • Wash and dry stalks well to remove excess moisture to prevent ice crystals.
  • Cut stalks into preferred size, 1/2-1″ (1-2.5 cm).
  • Place pieces on tray or cookie sheet in single layer. Freeze until solid, 1-2 hours.
  • Transfer frozen pieces into freezer bag.
  • Remove as much air from bag as possible before sealing. Use a straw inserted into a small opening and suck out air to create a simple vacuum seal. This helps prevent freezer burn.
  • Label and freeze for one year.

Tried this recipe?Share a photo and tag #getgettys on Instagram! To use, pour out the amount of rhubarb required for a recipe. Reseal and return bag to freezer as quickly as possible.
Unless recipe specifies otherwise, do not thaw rhubarb before using. Trim leaves and tail ends from rhubarb. Even though the leaves are poisonous to us, they can be composted without any concerns.

Wash and dry stalks. It’s important to remove as much surface moisture as possible so that there’s as little ice crystals forming in your freezer bag as possible.

Chop rhubarb to desired size. Think about how you prefer to use your frozen rhubarb. I often add pieces to muffins, so I cut my pieces about 1/2″. If you typically stew your rhubarb, larger pieces will work perfectly.

Place rhubarb pieces in a single layer on a cookie sheet or large tray and freeze until solid – one to two hours.

Remove frozen pieces and place in freezer bag. Using a straw, suck out as much air from the bag as possible and seal baggie well.

By using a straw you create somewhat of a vacuum seal. While it’s not perfect, removing as much air as possible will help reduce freezer burn.

Label and store in freezer until next rhubarb season. Officially, “they” say frozen rhubarb will last 6-12 months. In reality, I’ll tell you that I’ve happily and successfully used rhubarb that has been in the freezer well over a year.

Because the rhubarb season is relatively short, I often use more frozen rhubarb than I do fresh rhubarb. Check out my Rhubarb eCookbook for over 40 recipes featuring fresh or frozen rhubarb. You’ll also find a few recipes right here.

Stewed Rhubarb

Rhubarb Cinnamon Buns

How to Dehydrate Rhubarb

How and When to Harvest Rhubarb

What’s your favorite way to use frozen rhubarb?

Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist, speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

Rhubarb simple syrup is a great way to preserve this favorite springtime item. This flavored simple syrup can be used for baking, to flavor kombucha and water kefir, and as a mixer for cocktails. The options are endless!

This post contains affiliate links, meaning, I may make a small commission based off your purchase at no additional cost to you.

Rhubarb announces the arrival of Spring with promise that Summer is right around the corner. And after a long winter, it is a welcomed sight!

This delicious tart stalk can be consumed raw and dipped in sugar, or preserved to create something wonderful for later. Whether the goal is to make rhubarb simple syrup, pie filling, rhubarb-strawberry butter or an old fashioned jam, it is the one thing we look forward to each year.

For years, pie filling and rhubarb-strawberry butter, was a favorite item for us to preserve. That is, until rhubarb simple syrup came to mind. The process for making a simple syrup using rhubarb is extremely easy. And in truth, there is very little effort which goes into the process.

One last thing, the leaves are not edible and are toxic. Feel free to compost the leaves or make this natural rhubarb leaf pesticide for your garden. Also, rhubarb grows well in the shade. This perennial can be planted as a filler for areas that receive partial to full sun.

Rhubarb Simple Syrup – Ingredients

When fresh rhubarb is not available, frozen can be used in its place. Also, keep in mind, rhubarb stalks range in color, from a light green to a stunning red. The lighter stalks will create a less vivid red syrup. Adding a few cranberries during the cooking process will enhance the color of the simple syrup.

  • 4 cups fresh Rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups Water
  • 1 1/2 cups organic granulated Sugar

Tools Needed:

  • Heavy bottom pot
  • Swing top bottle

Grab a copy of my book, The Farm Girl’s Guide to Preserving the Harvest.

From my farmhouse kitchen to yours, an easy to comprehend guide which walks you though every phase of home food preservation. Learn how to can, dry, ferment, cure, freeze, and storing fresh foods for long term storage. Included you will also find some of my favorite preserving recipes!

Rhubarb Simple Syrup – Instructions
  1. Add the water, sugar and rhubarb to a heavy bottom pot.
  2. On medium heat bring mixture to a boil.
  3. Lower heat to a simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, cooking until rhubarb has softened and is breaking apart.
  4. Set mixture aside until it has cooled.
  5. Using a fine mesh strainer, reserve the syrup. Allow mixture to strain naturally without pushing down on the rhubarb. Doing so will leave sediments in the syrup.
  6. Store in refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.

Note:

Reserve the cooked rhubarb to be used in cakes, muffins, breads, as well as to top ice-cream.

Using Rhubarb Simple Syrup

Outside of sipping it from the bottle, yes, that could very well happen, there are a plethora of uses for this delicious simple syrup. In combination with what I listed above, here are a few additional ideas:

  • Added to flavor cakes and pastries
  • As flavoring for a kombucha brew and kefir water
  • An ingredient for an adult cocktail
  • Heck, use it as a syrup on waffles or pancakes
  • Be creative and use it any which way you’d like

Kid Friendly Raspberry Cordial for Free Range Homesteading kids

Printable Recipe Card – Rhubarb Simple Syrup

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Rhubarb Simple Syrup | Preserving Rhubarb

Keyword: rhubarb simple syrup

  • 4 cups fresh Rhubarb cut 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups Water
  • 1 1/2 cups organic granulated Sugar
  • Add water, sugar, and fresh rhubarb to a heavy bottom pot.
  • On medium heat bring mixture to a boil.
  • Lower heat, allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Cook rhubarb until it is soft and breaking.
  • Set mixture aside to cool.
  • Using a fine mesh strainer, allow syrup to strain. Refrain from pushing down on the rhubarb, doing so will leave sediments in the syrup.
  • Store in refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.

There is very little easier than this – and the joy of sweet and tart rhubarb in the middle of winter just can’t be beaten. If you’re new to preserving, this is a great one to start with. The basics are covered in our preserving section – a candy thermometer is the one item that will help a great deal with this one.

If you’ve never eaten raw rhubarb before, give it a taste – it borders on awful (though I love it). It’s so bitter that it can be tough to chew (my eyes water a bit thinking about it). As a child I would pluck it from the garden and dip it repeatedly in white sugar (I’m told that honey is a good alternative as well). When it’s stewed with a bit of sugar (or in a pie), it gains a sweet and sour combination that can’t be beat. If you’ve never tried it before and want to try you can use this recipe to cook some up without preserving it.

Start by choosing fresh rhubarb – as is typical, you want the freshest you can possibly get. I cheated with the grocery store but I’m certain we’ll get some farm fresh in the next week and do another batch. Beyond fresh, you want to get them as red as possible. The green bits are tough and extra bitter and don’t make it into the preserve.

Clean up the rhubarb and remove leafy ends and green bits. Cut it into 1-inch pieces (don’t worry about being too accurate). I slice the real thick stocks lengthwise so that each piece is approximately the same size. The insides are bright green, which is why there is so much green in the photo.

For every 4 cups of rhubarb, add 1/2 to a full cup of sugar. I add as little as possible (you can always add more later as it stews). Place the chopped rhubarb in the fridge for a few hours, stirring occaisionally. Do this for less than 4 hours but as long as you want. The idea is to get the juices flowing and a nice sauce should be gathering at the bottom of your bowl.

Slowly bring the rhubarb to a boil. Raise the temperature to about 222 degrees (assuming you are at sea level). The sugar allows it to go beyond the typical 212 degrees. They will break down and fall apart – I like to make sure that there is a good mix of solid pieces and stewed “bits” – if you cooked it down even further you would end up with no solid pieces at all. I add a bit more sugar if it’s too tart here – the recommendation I’ve read is no more than 1 cup to every quart (4 cups).

Place it hot, sterilized jars and follow the sealing process (using a pressure cooker as there is little acidity in this mix). If the mix is “dry”, top off with boiling water – this shouldn’t be needed if you were patient with the sugar up front. We let ours soak in the fridge for about 3 hours and there’s plenty of natural juices contained within the jar.

Enjoy the sweet and sour explosion when you eat it! Stewed rhubarb is a delight in contrasts – have fun and enjoy!

Rhubarb

Botanically, rhubarb is a vegetable (it’s related to sorrel and dock) but its thick, fleshy stalks are treated as a fruit, despite their tart flavour.

Rhubarb grows in two crops. The first, forced rhubarb, arrives early in the year and is grown under pots in what’s known as the ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ around Leeds, Wakefield and Bradford. Its stalks are watermelon pink in colour with pale, lime-green leaves, and it is the more tender and delicately flavoured of the two.

The second, called maincrop rhubarb, is grown outdoors and arrives in spring. Its stalks are deeper red and tinged with green, while its leaves are bright green. It has a more intense flavour and robust texture than the forced variety.

Although it can be eaten raw, rhubarb tends to be too tart this way, and it’s usually best when cooked with plenty of sugar. It goes well with both ginger and strawberries.

Availability

Forced is available from January to early February, and maincrop from late March to June. You can try growing rhubarb in your garden or allotment – read more at the Royal Horticultural Society.

Choose the best

Go for firm, crisp, plump stalks with perky leaves and good colour.

Prepare it

Rhubarb leaves contain a poison called oxalic acid, so should never be eaten – cut them off and discard. Maincrop rhubarb can sometimes have tough, stringy ribs, so after washing it, strip these off with a small, sharp knife and slice the stalk thinly or thickly as required. Forced rhubarb should be tender enough not to need peeling – just wash, then trim the top and bottom of the stalks and slice.

Store it

Rhubarb wilts quite quickly – store it in the fridge and eat within a couple of days. Keep the leaves on until you’re ready to eat it, as they’ll help keep it fresh.

Cook it

Stew or poach (8-10 mins) or roast (15 mins for forced, 20 for maincrop) rhubarb. Use it to make crumbles, pies or jam. Roast and purée to make rhubarb fool.

Rhubarb can also be added to savoury dishes, as its tartness can stand up to fatty meats like pork and duck well. Try it with pork chops, rhubarb & grains in a new twist on a traybake, or raw and finely chopped as a salsa to go with pan-seared duck breasts and greens.

Watch our video on how to prepare and cook rhubarb:

Discover our rhubarb recipe collection.

How to Cook Rhubarb

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A spring staple for northern gardeners everywhere, rhubarb is one of the very first plants to bear after the snow melts. While strawberry rhubarb pie is the most well-known way to cook rhubarb, the sky is the limit.

Rhubarb has an acidic, tart flavor with just a hint of sweetness. That high acid content is what makes it great for desserts, but it also means that rhubarb complements meats and savory dishes.

How to Peel Rhubarb

Regardless of how I’m cooking rhubarb, I always start by peeling it. While many sites will tell you that peeling rhubarb is unnecessary, the peels are stringy and catch in your teeth. It’s hard to get clean rhubarb slices without peeling it. And really, peeling rhubarb is simple, and only takes a minute.

Start with a very sharp paring knife, and slip the knife under the skin at the end of a rhubarb stalk. The skin is very thin, but also quite tough. Looking at the end of a rhubarb stalk, you should be able to clearly see the skin as distinct from the rest of the rhubarb meat.

Once you’ve got your knife slipped under the edge, pin the rhubarb peel there with your thumb. The peel should immediately begin to pull away from the stalk.

Keep pulling until you’ve worked your way all the way down the rhubarb stalk. What’s left is a tender piece of rhubarb, without all that annoying stringiness to stick in your teeth. This is especially useful in things like stewed rhubarb, where the inner part of the rhubarb stalk disintegrates, and unless you peel them you’ll be left with long strands of a stringy tough peel.

Note that some varieties of rhubarb are only red on the outside. If you want to make stunning pink baked goods, sauces and syrups you’ll need to choose a red rhubarb variety. There are quite a few choices available here.

Rhubarb is pretty forgiving. Chopped into chunks, it can hold its shape in muffins and remain firm in pies. Cooked in a pan with a bit of gentle stirring and it’ll disintegrate into an easy stewed rhubarb to top ice cream. Roasted in whole stalks on a sheet pan, rhubarb makes a particularly dramatic presentation and the roasting brings out its sweetness.

Easy Rhubarb Recipes

Maple Sweetened Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb No-Bake Cheesecakes

Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcakes

Rhubarb Compote

Rhubarb Slab Pie

Baked Rhubarb with Whipped Cream

Baked Rhubarb with Whipped Cream from Christina’s Cucina

Rhubarb Breakfast Recipes

Marscapone Rhubarb Stuffed French Toast

Rhubarb Blueberry Cardamom Muffins

Rhubarb and Strawberry Whole Wheat Muffins

Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

Rhubarb Breakfast Cake

Rhubarb Breakfast Cake from The View from Great Island

Sweet Rhubarb Recipes

Rhubarb and Pear Crumble

Strawberry Rhubarb Fool

Rhubarb Custard Cake

Rose Rhubarb Layer Cake

No Churn Rhubarb Ice Cream

Strawberry Rhubarb Dream Bars

Raspberry Rhubarb Almond Bars

Rhubarb Blackberry Cobbler with Cornish Clotted Cream

Rhubarb Meringue Cups

Rhubarb Meringue Cups from A Beautiful Plate

Old Fashioned Rhubarb Recipes

Old Fashioned Rhubarb Cake

Old Fashioned Rhubarb Grunt

Savory Rhubarb Recipes

Rhubarb Coleslaw

Pan Fried Rhubarb Chicken

Rhubarb Baked Beans

Rhubarb Baked Beans from Curious Cuisiniere

Rhubarb Preserves

Rhubarb Butter

Strawberry Rhubarb Pineapple Jam

Rhubarb Curd

Rhubarb Orange Marmalade

Rhubarb Chutney

Rhubarb Berry Jam

Rhubarb Curd from Vikalinka

Healthy Rhubarb Recipes

Carrot Rhubarb Soup

Rhubarb and Greek Yogurt Popsicles

Low Carb, Gluten Free Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberry Rhubarb Spinach Salad

Rhubarb Coconut Milk Popsicles

Rhubarb Coconut Milk Popsicles from Veggie Inspired

Rhubarb Drink Recipes

Rhubarb Moscow Mule

Rhubarb Mint Mojito

Rhubarb Sour

Homemade Rhubarb Liqueur

Rhubarb Spring Fling

Honey Rhubarb Ice Tea

Rhubarb Shrub Cocktail

Rhubarb Lemonade

Strawberry, Lime and Rhubarb Sparkler

Strawberry Lime and Rhubarb Sparkler from Delicious Everyday

What’s your favorite way to cook rhubarb? Have I missed any great rhubarb recipes? Leave me a note in the comments below.

What Is Rhubarb — and What Is It Good For?

Photo by Meredith

As springtime approaches, rhubarb desserts take center stage. But just because you’re familiar with this seasonal vegetable (or is it a fruit?), that doesn’t mean you know exactly what it is.

Learn everything you need to know about rhubarb from the basics to how to grow it and cook with it. Plus get top-rated recipes that go way beyond pie (but we’ve got pie too). If you’ve got questions about rhubarb, we’ve go answers. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is Rhubarb?

Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable (yes, vegetable) characterized by long crimson or light green stalks topped by large ruffled green leaves. Its extremely tart stalks are the only edible part of the plant; the leaves contain poisonous oxalic acid, and are always snipped off and discarded.

Although the Chinese have used rhubarb medicinally for thousands of years, its use as a food source is a relatively recent development, particularly after the 17th century when sugar became more widely available and it became a popular addition to pies and other desserts.

Today, it’s commonly paired with strawberries or other sweet fruits to balance out its tart flavor.

Is Rhubarb a Fruit or Vegetable?

Although it’s technically a vegetable, rhubarb actually gained legal status as a fruit in 1947 when the U.S. Customs Court ruled that because it was used like a fruit for culinary purposes, it must be considered a fruit. This was good news for businesses who were able to pay lower taxes on fruits than on vegetables.

Where Does Rhubarb Grow in the United States?

Although rhubarb looks like an exotic tropical plant, it actually prefers a cool climate. You’ll find field-grown rhubarb in the northern states from Maine to Washington State. Rhubarb can also be raised in hothouses.

When Is Rhubarb in Season?

Springtime is rhubarb season. Depending on the climate, some areas can enjoy rhubarb crops into summer, but for the most part, rhubarb doesn’t do well in the heat. You’ll find that stalks harvested in late winter/early spring are more tender, while those harvested in spring/early summer are more flavorful.

Health Benefits of Rhubarb

This low-calorie, low-starch, high-fiber vegetable is a good source of magnesium, vitamins C and K, calcium, and manganese.

Did you know? “Rhubarb” is an old-timey slang term for a quarrel or dispute.

Growing and Harvesting Rhubarb

Image zoom Photo by Meredith

Can I Grow Rhubarb at Home?

Yes, if you live in the cool northern states. Check with your local agriculture extension office to see if rhubarb will thrive where you’re gardening.

Does It Take up a Lot of Room in the Garden?

Give it an open, sunny, well-drained spot in the garden with about 36 inches of personal space for each plant. You’ll want to plant rhubarb roots instead of slow-to-grow seeds, and give plants plenty of water during the growing season.

Don’t plan on harvesting stalks until at least the second year after the plant has gotten established, and then just harvest a few stalks. Rhubarb will die down to the ground in autumn and may seem to disappear over winter, but bright pink new growth will appear in early spring.

Does Rhubarb Produce a Flower?

If you see a rhubarb stalk with a gnarly looking bud on the end, that’s a flower stalk. Most gardeners remove the entire stalk right down to the base so the plant can expend energy on making more leaves rather than on the flower. The flower is edible but the stalk and leaves have a high concentration of oxalic acid and should not be eaten.

To cook the flower, remove the stalk and any leaves encasing the bud. Steam the bud like broccoli or use it in a stir-fry. Rhubarb flowers taste tart, like broccoli with a robust squeeze of lemon.

How Do I Harvest Rhubarb Stalks?

Either cut off the stalk at the very base of the plant, or pull it at the base with a twisting motion until it comes away. You can harvest a few stalks at a time and let the rest mature. The older the plant, the more stalks it will grow.

How to Pick Rhubarb

Different varieties of rhubarb will be deep crimson, rosy pink, or even pink-streaked green when fully ripe.

If you’re selecting rhubarb in the grocery store or farmers’ market, choose stalks that are firm and blemish-free. Don’t buy stalks that are limp, shriveled, or spotted brown.

Rhubarb stalks are stringy like celery, but they break down during cooking, so de-stringing is not necessary.

How to Store Rhubarb

Wrap fresh rhubarb in plastic, put it in the refrigerator, and don’t wash it until you’re ready to use it. Rhubarb will keep for up to a week if you store it carefully.

If you’ve got a bumper crop of rhubarb and want to freeze it to use year-round, prepare it by washing and cutting it into 1-inch pieces. Drop the pieces into boiling water for one minute, and then stop the cooking by “shocking” it.

Scoop rhubarb out with a slotted spoon or sieve and plunge it immediately into ice water. Drain the cooled rhubarb pieces, spread them out on baking sheets and transfer them to the freezer.

Once the rhubarb is frozen solid, you can store it in heavy-duty plastic bags for up to a year.

Get more tips for freezing fruits and vegetables.

How To Cook Rhubarb

Now comes the fun part. Although rhubarb is a vegetable, we usually treat it like a fruit by using it on its own or in combination with other fruit in pies, crisps, jams, muffins, and quick breads.

Image zoom Photo by Vanessa Greaves

More: The rhubarb muffins you’ve got to try this spring.

Rhubarb Shortbread Bars

This top-rated recipe is a great example of a simple way to turn tart rhubarb into a sweet and easy dessert. The video shows you how to put it all together.

Rhubarb Pie

Often too tart on its own, rhubarb pairs wonderfully with other fruits to create a complex sweet-tart flavor. Berries, apples, oranges, and peaches are all good choices. See

Pie is one of the most popular ways to dish up cooked rhubarb. It’s often combined with other fruit, such as strawberries. Discover dozens of tried-and-true rhubarb pie recipes.

Image zoom Photo by Meredith

More: Get tips for making and decorating pies.

Rhubarb Jam

Cooking down rhubarb stalks into sweet tart jam is even easier than making pie.

Image zoom Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

Recipe shown: Rhubarb Jam

You can make excellent rhubarb jam by stewing it on its own with sugar, or combining it with strawberries or other fruit. Try Rhubarb Jam, Rhubarb Strawberry Jam, Rhubarb Pineapple Jam, and Easy Apple Rhubarb Jam.

More: Get tips for making freezer jam.

Cooking Tip

Rhubarb is highly acidic—in fact, some people swear the best way to clean a stained pot is to cook rhubarb in it. To avoid a chemical reaction, use a stainless steel, glass, enameled, or nonstick pan. Aluminum or uncoated iron pans will turn the mixture gray.

Explore our entire collection of sweet and savory rhubarb recipes.

More Ways to Love Rhubarb

  • Get top recipes for rhubarb crisps and crumbles, and biscuit-topped rhubarb cobblers.
  • Rhubarb’s not just about playing it sweet. Try out these savory rhubarb recipes.

Learn how to properly store fresh rhubarb AND how to freeze it for using later. Take advantage of the glorious rhubarb season and don’t let any of these precious stalks go to waste!

If you couldn’t tell, I’ve been loving on rhubarb season lately. From my Sparkling – Rhubarb Lemon Ice, to a Rhubarb & Strawberry Sangria, and a tasty Buckwheat & Rhubarb Quick Bread, I just can’t get enough.

I don’t mind running around the Farmers’ Markets searching for those ruby-red stalks, or calling every grocery store I can think of to ask when they expect to get some in. What really pains me is when I finally get ahold of this gloriously tart vegetable and I don’t have a plan. So it starts to wilt, go limp, and eventually go to waste.

One could argue I should just be prepared and know what I am going to do with it. And, yes, you’re right, I should be prepared. But when life get’s in the way (i.e. house renovations, moving, weddings, full-time jobs — God forbid) rhubarb should have the graciousness to wait for me, because well, I waited long enough for it.

A few weeks ago a friend asked me how to best store rhubarb, and it lit a fire under my you know what. Wrapping rhubarb in a grocery sack just couldn’t continue. So I set out to find the best method for storing fresh rhubarb, and here’s what I found.

Rhubarb Sangria (recipe originally posted on IG)

How to store rhubarb for 1–2 days:

Simply fill a glass jar halfway with water and place rhubarb stalks, bottom end down, in water. Cover with a plastic bag (such as a produce bag) and refrigerate until ready to use. You can also store fresh rhubarb loosely wrapped in a plastic produce bag. But again, these two methods are only for a short storage period.


How to store rhubarb for a few weeks or up to a month:

Arrange rhubarb stalks on a large piece of foil. Loosely, yet snuggly, wrap foil around rhubarb stalks, gently crimping the ends (you don’t want it air tight) and place in the refrigerator until needed. Rhubarb should keep this way for at least a month, sometimes longer.



How to freeze rhubarb to use in a few (or many) months from now:

Rinse rhubarb stalks with water and wipe dry, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid, about 3–4 hours. Transfer frozen rhubarb pieces to resealable plastic freezer bags and store in the freezer for up to a year.

Rhubarb Margarita

Sweet, tart and perfectly refreshing, this summer marg recipe is the idea patio cocktail

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Rhubarb Curd

A fun take on a classic recipe! This rhubarb curd is gorgeously hued, naturally sweetened and delicious in a variety of recipes. Try it in a tart, on shortcakes, swirled into yogurt and more.

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Sparkling Rhubarb – Lemon Ice

Think adult slushy. This sparkling ice recipe is sweet, tart and boozy. It’s perfect for hot summer days!

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Lemon Rhubarb Curd Tart

There’s no denying this is a show-stopping dessert! Featuring a cookie-like crust and layers of lemon curd and rhubarb curd. Gorgeous and delicious!

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Buckwheat Rhubarb Bread

A healthy quick-bread studded with rhubarb and spiced with ginger and cardamom. You can use fresh or frozen rhubarb for this recipe!

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Blueberry Rhubarb Pie

The essence of summer stuffed between pie crust. This pie is heaven on earth and just might surprise you at how easy it is to make.

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Strawberry-Rhubarb Yogurt Parfaits with Honey & Almond Granola

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Have you ever cooked with rhubarb? For some people, rhubarb is a part of childhood memories of sweet summer pies, but for others, it’s foreign. I am in the latter camp, having not even heard of it until I was an adult. Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, but its culinary use is like that of a fruit. You’ve probably seen it in the markets – it looks kind of like celery, but the stalks come in pretty red and pink colors.

There are two types of rhubarb. Traditional rhubarb has thick, green stalks while hothouse rhubarb has thinner stalks with bright red and pink colors. The brighter the color, the more tart the flavor seems to be. If you’ve ever wondered why rhubarb seems to be paired with strawberries all the time, it’s because the sweetness of the strawberries helps to balance out rhubarb’s tart flavor. Rhubarb is nicknamed the “pie plant” because it is a popular ingredient in desserts, but it also has its place in savory dishes. If you’re new to rhubarb, here’s all you need to know to enjoy this springtime favorite.

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1. Selection and Storage

Rhubarb comes into season in April, peaks in April and May, and is available through summer. Hothouse rhubarb is available January through June. When choosing rhubarb, look for firm, crisp stalks, and shiny skins. Avoid stalks that are limp with blemishes and split ends. Look for small leaves, which indicate a younger plant, but don’t eat them — the leaves contain oxalic acid, which is toxic.

When you’ve selected your rhubarb, remove the leaves from the stalks before you store them. Don’t cut the stalks until you are ready to use them, or the rhubarb will dry out. Uncut stalks can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week when sealed in a plastic bag. If you want to cut the stalks in advance, you can freeze them in an airtight bag or container. Rhubarb can also be purchased canned or frozen, but there’s nothing quite like fresh produce.

2. Prep

After trimming off the toxic leaves, wash the stalks and pat them dry. With a vegetable peeler, remove any blemishes from the surface of the stalks. Sometimes, the stems of wild rhubarb are fibrous, making them difficult to work with. To remove the strings of fiber, use a small, sharp knife to cut a tiny slit at one end of the stalk. Hold the edge of the slit and peel the skin back, which will take all of the stringy fibers with it. Cut the stalks into whatever size pieces you need for the recipe. For desserts, this is usually between 1/4-inch and 1/2-inch. Avoid cooking rhubarb in aluminum, iron, or copper pans because the acidity of the rhubarb will react with these metals, leading to discoloration of your cookware. Instead, choose pans that are made from enameled cast iron, anodized aluminum, non-stick coated aluminum, or glass.

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3. Savory Dishes

Rhubarb may be known for desserts, but it can be used in savory dishes as well. Cut raw rhubarb into matchsticks, toss it with a little bit of vinegar to soften the stalks, and add it to salads and slaws. Or, you can roast rhubarb in the oven which caramelizes the sugars and brings out an intense, sweet, yet savory flavor. Add rhubarb to sauces, chutneys, and glazes for color and sweetness. This Raw Cranberry Chutney would be the perfect place to add rhubarb.

4. Bars and Granola

Granola and fruit-and-nut bars are great ways to use rhubarb. It adds sweetness, but not much, so it’s best used in combination with other fruits. This Berrylicious Rhubarb Crumble Granola has rhubarb, blueberries, plums, hazelnuts, and pumpkin seeds. It’s fruity, juicy, sticky, and delicious. Enjoy it with non-dairy milk as a cereal, as a snack, or as a crunchy topping for non-diary yogurt and ice cream. If you’re looking for a healthy snack, then these Healthy Strawberry Rhubarb Bars are just the thing you want to make. These tangy and sweet bars have a crust made from oats, almonds, and raisins.

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5. Summer Refreshments

Everyone loves strawberry ice cream and sorbet, but this summer, give rhubarb a try! This Rhubarb, Rosewater, and Lime Sorbet is easy to make, and it contains only five ingredients. Learn about 7 Ways to Make Ice Cream Without Dairy and then use your know-how to add some rhubarb to this Strawberry Banana Ice Cream Sundae. If you prefer treats on a stick, then you have to make these colorful and creamy Strawberry-Rhubarb-Coconut Pops. That same combination of strawberry, rhubarb, and coconut come together in this Strawberry Rhubarb and Coconut Panna Cotta, which may be the most impressive dessert, you’ll ever make with fewer than six ingredients. Another way to enjoy rhubarb is to drink it. This refreshing and pretty pink Strawberry Rhubarb Smoothie is a great breakfast or afternoon treat.

6. Baking with Rhubarb

Rhubarb is probably most well-known for being baked in pies; that’s how it got its nickname as the “pie plant.” Rhubarb pie is even one of the signature dishes in the Swedish island-province of Gotland. This Swedish Rhubarb Crumble is tangy, but sweetened with brown sugar — and rhubarb and brown sugar are like a match made in heaven. Rhubarb desserts elicit fond memories for many people who grew up with mom’s or grandma’s signature rhubarb pies and crisps. Those traditional recipes can be honored by using non-dairy ingredients as replacements. This Classic Rhubarb Crisp – A Summer Tradition is a healthier take on the traditional recipe, but it still brings back all those feelings of nostalgia. For a real summer treat, try this Rhubarb Cinnamon Crumble. It’s so easy and delicious; you’ll make it over and over again.

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Besides pies, crisps and crumbles, rhubarb can be used in cakes and muffins. This Vanilla Rhubarb Coffee Cake belongs on the brunch table. It’s has a mouth-watering balance of sweet vanilla and the tart rhubarb. The rhubarb offers small, juicy bursts of tartness in contrast to the soft, moist cake. These gluten-free Banana Rhubarb Peach Muffins are also moist and delicious. Filled with fruity flavor, these are great for breakfast, or as a snack. You’ll also want to try these Roasted Rhubarb Granola Muffins. The rhubarb is roasted in coconut sugar, which softens and sweetens it, but still allows it to retain a sharpness that perfectly complements the sweet, moist texture of the muffins.

7. Strawberry and Rhubarb

Strawberries and rhubarb are a classic tradition. The sweetness of the strawberries balances the tartness of the rhubarb and together, the colors of both make create beautiful desserts. This Seasonal Strawberry Rhubarb Pie also contains lemon juice and orange zest for extra sweetness, while cinnamon and allspice add warmth. If you’re gluten-free, you don’t have to miss out on any of the fun. Just use a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend to make this beautiful Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie. The flavors of this raw Strawberry Rhubarb Tart will instantly take you back to your childhood summer memories.

Whether you’ve been enjoying rhubarb since you were a child or it’s completely new to you, these recipes will make you a fan of the “pie plant.” This seasonal vegetable will add beautiful color and just the right amount of sweetness to your spring and summer recipes.

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I grew up on a farm in rural South Dakota with a mom who nurtured a special liking for rhubarb. On the west side of our garage is where she kept her own private stash, a tightly planted row about 15 feet long. Mom would return from the yard with a bundle of ruby and green streaked stalks and proceed to make a variety of pies and bars, and of course, a simmering pan of Dad’s favorite rhubarb sauce.

Mom taught me how to dip the raw stalks, bracingly tart, in a little bowl of sugar, a special treat for anyone who helped out in the kitchen. Now with my own rhubarb plants, this is a tradition I have upheld with my own kids. Our youngest daughter is especially fond of this treat, always quick to pull up a stool at the counter and start dipping.

Growing up with rhubarb, I thought that everyone knew about it—what it looked like and how it tasted. And I just presumed that every recipe box in the country included at least a few well-used recipe cards that glorified this humble plant, most likely in their grandmother’s handwriting.

But ever since I shared the first rhubarb recipe on my blog, just a few weeks after a farmgirl’s dabbles was born in 2010, I realized how wrong I was. So I’m here to talk rhubarb. Here’s my Rhubarb 101.

What is rhubarb?

Rhubarb is a hearty perennial, one of the first edible plants harvested each spring here in the Midwest. Most people, including myself, use rhubarb as if it were a fruit. But rhubarb is actually a vegetable that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. The stalks can vary in color, from pink to deep red, and often have a bright green streaking to them. And they contain all sorts of good-for-you things, like antioxidants, fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. The large leaves at the stalk’s tips, on the other hand, are poisonous if ingested. But don’t let that worry you—simply chop off the leaves and throw them away.

Where can I find rhubarb?

I know many people who would never think of paying money for rhubarb. If they don’t have a few of their own plants in the yard, they know of a handful of neighbors who would gladly share. So I’d always suggest asking around first. More than likely, someone you know has a plant or two where you can cut a few stalks. Look for longer stalks that are thick and firm, bright and healthy-looking.

If you don’t have easy access to rhubarb plants, make a trip to your local farmers market. You’re also likely to find some in the fresh produce section of the grocery store.

How do I clean rhubarb?

Getting rhubarb ready to use in recipes is super duper easy. Just cut off the leaves and throw them away. Trim the ends of the stalks, and then wash and dry. Your rhubarb is now ready to cut into whatever-sized pieces you want. I find the act of cutting rhubarb so satisfying, very much like chopping celery.

How do I store rhubarb?

Rhubarb keeps really well in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for a week or two. It will probably soften during that time, leaving the stalks a bit limp, but that won’t effect the rhubarb in recipes that you make. Wait to wash the rhubarb until just before using.

Rhubarb also freezes very well, and very easily. Simply wash and chop the stalks (1/2 to 1 inch in size is great for most recipes) and place them in a freezer baggie. Freeze and then enjoy any time you wish!

How do I use rhubarb?

Ohhhhh, this is the very best part!

While rhubarb can most definitely be used in savory applications, you’ll most often find it in sweeter ones. You might have heard rhubarb referred to as “pie plant”, as it’s often thickened with flour or cornstarch, sweetened with sugar to temper its sourness, and then used as a filling for pies, crisps, cobblers, and tarts. One of my favorite recipes in this category is my grandma’s rhubarb custard pie.

Rhubarb also lends itself perfectly to breads and cakes. The photo above is of my mother-in-law’s rhubarb nut coffee cake, the first rhubarb recipe to appear on my blog.

There are rhubarb purists who can’t stand the thought of mixing berries with their rhubarb. But I will forever love this combination of colors and flavors, especially when it comes to rhubarb jam. The berries add brilliant redness, plus a natural sweetness that plays wonderfully with rhubarb. This recipe for strawberry rhubarb crumb bars is a great place to start if you haven’t experienced berries and rhubarb together.

I can never let spring pass me by without making at least one jar of rhubarb syrup. See that gorgeous red color? That is pure rhubarb, no colorants added. My family likes to enjoy this sweet syrup drizzled over pancakes, waffles, and bowls of fresh berries with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

I also like to use this syrup to flavor beverages. Swirl a bit into your iced lemonade or club soda for a sweet and puckery refreshment. Or make rhubarb mojitos (shown above). Or rhubarb margaritas. My grandma used to make rhubarb wine. The possibilities are deliciously endless!

And now I’m going to leave you with a how-to for a simple rhubarb sauce, a favorite of my dad’s. Mom won’t let me even call it a recipe. All you need are three ingredients: rhubarb, water, and sugar.

This is how Mom taught me to make it…

In a medium saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, stir together 1 pound of chopped rhubarb, 1/4 cup of water, and 1/3 cup of sugar. Let it come to a boil and then turn heat down to medium-low and let it simmer until rhubarb is broken down but chunks still remain. This should take 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the tenderness of the rhubarb. Be sure to taste test the sauce while it is simmering, adding more sugar if you like a sweeter sauce. You can also create a thinner sauce by adding more water, if desired. Remove pan from heat.

Then serve the rhubarb sauce warm, chilled, or at room temperature. It’s fabulous over pound cake, angel food cake, waffles, and pancakes. And ice cream. Most definitely. I love it over a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Brenda

Brenda Score is the creator of the food-focused site, a farm girl’s dabbles, and believes that deliciousness is meant to be shared. Her collection of tried-and-true recipes and inspiring stories combine the family traditions of her mom and grandmas, from Brenda’s life growing up on the farm in South Dakota, with fun twists from the modern food world. Brenda has lived in the Twin Cities area for more than fifteen years now. She is the busy mom of two young girls and the wife of an outstanding man who enjoys the backyard thrill of his grills. Together, they love to gather friends and family at the table and share an awesome meal, catch up on life, and play a few games.

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