For some, the bright green leaves and ruby red stalks of rhubarb are a sign of spring. Rhubarb, actually a vegetable, was once used for mostly medical purposes. Because rhubarb has a fruit like taste, we often use it as a fruit in the months when other fruit is not as available. Read on for tips on how you can enjoy spring rhubarb.
Rhubarb is a source of potassium, vitamin C and calcium.
Potassium is a mineral that can help lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Potassium also plays an important role in keeping your kidneys, muscles and digestive system working well.
Vitamin C keeps your immune system healthy. It helps to heal cuts and keeps your gums, bones, muscles, tissues and blood vessels strong. As an antioxidant, it may help to reduce the risk of cancer.
Calcium keeps your bones and teeth healthy, and your muscles, nerves and heart working properly.
Rhubarb is grown in Ontario and is available from January until June. When you buy local food, you support farmers so they can keep producing high quality, affordable food we can all enjoy.
Shopping and storing rhubarb
Choose rhubarb with crisp, firm stalks. Rhubarb that has been grown outdoors will come in various shades of green to a deep ruby red. Greenhouse rhubarb (which is grown indoors and available in cooler months) usually has smaller leaves and stalks that are more rosy coloured. It is said that greenhouse (sometimes called “forced”) rhubarb, has a milder taste than the outdoor variety.
Rhubarb should be stored in the fridge. To freeze, clean and place rhubarb in boiling water for 2 minutes then chop into small pieces before putting in the freezer.
*Do not eat the rhubarb leaves. They contain oxalic acid, which can irritate the mouth and is sometimes fatal.
Cooking with rhubarb
Despite being a vegetable, rhubarb is used mostly in sweet dishes. Rhubarb's tartness pairs well with sweet fruits, especially strawberries. Rhubarb also goes especially well with ginger. Popular rhubarb dishes are pies, tarts, preserves, sauces, compotes, crumbles, chutneys and even wine!
When the only local “fruit” is rhubarb, why not try some of these recipes?
Try pairing sweet with savoury by serving this Rhubarb Chutney with roast pork.
Keep a Rhubarb Sauce handy for adding to smoothies and shakes.
For brunch, why not serve this Rhubarb Apple Loaf? It can also be made into muffins.
If you need to use up day old bread, give this Rhubarb and Apricot Bread Pudding a try.
Last Update – May 19, 2017