It is most commonly served in desserts, and probably one of the most classic preparations is in Strawberry Rhubarb pie. However it certainly can be prepared on it’s own in solo-rhubarb-pastry glory. (Just be sure to add sugar!)
Varieties: Rhubarb is only available early in the year, and there are usually two varietals that you will see at the store – one is the hothouse rhubarb that is grown in greenhouses and available for purchase in late winter and early spring, whereas the field-grown rhubarb can be found typically in the months of April and May (aka right now!). Hothouse rhubarb is typically a brighter red color and a little sweeter in flavor, whereas the field-grown rhubarb will be more woody and green.
(Photo Credit: Jamie Oliver)
Is it Safe? Generally at the store you will only find rhubarb stalks available for purchase, but the plant actually grows lovely, large leafy greens. Don’t be fooled by these beautifully fibrous leaves; these greens are nephrotoxic to humans (translation: they are poisonous to your kidneys), so if you happen to find a bunch with the greens still attached to the rhubarb stalk please don’t chop them up for your morning smoothie.
(This is one instance where I will encourage you to stick with the kale).
Flavor profile: Rhubarb is safe to eat raw, but is incredibly tart and somewhat woody, so in general rhubarb is cooked prior to eating. It is often paired with other fruits (such as strawberries) to make jams, jellies, or pie fillings. Lately I’ve seen a trend of rhubarb being used in craft cocktails, which I think seems like an exceptional idea.
Some great recipes including Rhubarb: Check out some of my favorite bloggers’ recipes for how to prepare rhubarb in your kitchen this spring.
Rhubarb Crumb Cake by Seasons and Suppers
Rhubarb Curd Bars by Foodess
Strawberry Rhubarb Galette by The Salty Tomato
Strawberry Rhubarb Pistachio Bars by The Brick Kitchen
Rhubarb Bellini by Cooks with Cocktails