Rhubarb’s All the Rage: Fresh Talk
Everything about rhubarb — from the odd spelling of its name to its poisonous leaves to its identity crisis (is it a fruit? a vegetable? a weapon? a baton?) — sets it apart from other spring produce. But to know its quirks is to love them. Just ask anyone who’s ever downed a fat slice of strawberry rhubarb cobbler.
When treated right, rhubarb offers a tangy, rosy depth both to baked goods and savory applications. When baking, temper its sourness with generous amounts of sugar. Slice stalks 1/4-inch thick so they “melt” and turn jammy as they warm. Or switch gears and shave rhubarb stalks whisper-thin to toss in salads. (Its tart, bright flavor will perk you right up.) To make a unique vinaigrette, boil sliced rhubarb in a bit of water, then strain the solids and whisk the resulting juice with oil, honey and vinegar. Try it in this recipe for duck and strawberry salad with rhubarb dressing.
Picking and Prepping: If you purchase or grow your own rhubarb, pick young, slender stalks, and always discard the leaves. Trim away the fibrous bottoms. Slice thinly, crosswise.
Storing: Store rhubarb in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer in an open plastic bag. You may also freeze rhubarb to enjoy throughout the year. Slice the stalks first, then freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet until hard. Transfer to a zip-top freezer bag.
Nutritional benefits: “Rhubarb is brimming with antioxidants, including vitamins C and E,” says registered dietitian Toby Amidor, MS, RD, a nutrition consultant at Toby Amidor Nutrition and nutrition expert for FoodNetwork.com. “It contains a phytonutrient (plant chemical) called anthraquinones, which have a laxative effect — so you don’t want to overindulge in it.”
Need more ideas for these unusual blush-colored stalks? Whip up some ginger-scented Oaty Rhubarb Streusel Bars, a citrus-infused rhubarb conserve, or these morning-friendly applesauce-rhubarb muffins.
Fruit? Vegetable? Mysterious culinary chameleon? It’s all rhubarb, and it’s all good.
Take full advantage of rhubarb season: explore all our rhubarb recipes!