Rhubarb 101: How to Choose, Prepare, and Cook With Rhubarb

Rhubarb 101: How to Choose, Prepare, and Cook With Rhubarb

While rhubarb is a bit of a mysterious vegetable that doesn’t look unlike a red version of celery, it is actually an excellent addition to many recipes, including preserves, sauces, and jams. Not only is it tasty when used correctly, but it’s low in cholesterol and sodium, cleanses your body, and offers a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins C and K, and other essential vitamins. And more good news if you live in the northeast of the United States – we’re in prime rhubarb season! In this article, we take you through how to choose, prepare, and cook with this seasonal treat, so you can enjoy it while you can!

How to Buy Rhubarb

While you’ve seen rhubarb plenty of times in the produce aisle of your local supermarket, you may have no idea how to pick out this celery-like vegetable. When selecting your rhubarb, it’s important to know how to identify a fresh stalk from one that’s a little past its expiration date. And in the case of this tart vegetable, color is not an indicator of freshness.

Tablespoon.com tells us more on how to pick out fresh rhubarb:

“If you have no idea what rhubarb looks like, the best way to describe it is as pinkish green with celery-like stalks. Look for stalks that are fresh and crisp with shiny skins. Avoid limp stalks with split ends, which indicates a lack of freshness.”

How to Prepare Rhubarb

If this is your first time preparing rhubarb, you may not be aware that the stalk of the rhubarb is the only part that you can consume. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous, and should not be consumed under any circumstances.

Better Homes & Gardens explains how to properly prepare rhubarb:

“Before cooking, trim stalks at the top and bottom. As mentioned above, discard any leave because they’re poisonous. Cut away and discard any tough, woody, or bruised parts of the stalks. Wash the stalks thoroughly and scrub with a vegetable brush. You don’t need to peel peak-season rhubarb, but by midsummer the stalks tend to be tough and fibrous, so you might need to peel them to make them tastier.”

How to Cook With Rhubarb

Due to the tartness of rhubarb, this vegetable tends to lend itself to sweet pairings. And while rhubarb pairs exceptionally well with sauces, pies, muffins, and cakes, it can also be used in sauces to accompany pork, chicken, and salmon.

The Kitchen Magpie tells us how they like to cook with rhubarb:

“Rhubarb is primarily paired with sugar to sweeten it up and used in desserts and is almost exclusively paired with strawberries. Yes, there are other fruits paired with it, but the most anticipated flavour combination of spring is strawberries and rhubarb – and for good reason, they are both springtime produce. The flavour profile is extremely tart, with a fruity taste, thus why we treat it as a fruit more often than not. It’s a common misconception that rhubarb needs to be pink or red to be ripe, there are rhubarb varieties that are entirely green and completely fine to use. If you are looking for colour in your dishes, try to make sure that you get a variety that is pink or red.”

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