Plant Profile: Rhubarb

posted in: Plant Profiles | 12

Seeing the rhubarb poke through the ground on a chilly day is always a good sign that the garden is awakening after the long winter.  Technically rhubarb is a vegetable but we tend to treat it as being in the fruit category.

rhubarb at

In April you can see the rhubarb crowns just poking through the ground after a wicked ice storm late in the season.  The crowns and first leaves are red, but quickly turn to green.

rhubarb at

And by May it is growing quickly with lots of new shoots under those big leaves.  Growing rhubarb doesn’t require a lot of skill.  I’ve moved mine around from spot to spot, dug up lots of crowns to share with friends and other gardeners.  It does like a sunny location in well drained soil with some protection.  My clump grows at the corner of the deck in it’s own little garden.

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In June the stalks will be big enough to cut.  Rinse the stalks thoroughly and then chop into pieces ready for cooking.  If you wrap the stalks in a damp paper towel they will store in the fridge for up to one week.  Mine never seem to make it to the fridge as they quickly get cooked into our favourite recipes.   I also freeze lots of rhubarb for use in the winter months.  Spread out the chopped pieces onto a cookie sheet and freeze, and then bag in recipe portions and store in the freezer.

rhubarb flower at

Last year I had a huge flower stalk that appeared on the rhubarb.  Of course I had to let it grow so I could get photos of it.  A bit of research told me that it wouldn’t affect the plant in any way and I still had an amazing harvest of rhubarb.

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The long red stalks are the edible part and the leaves contain oxalic acid which should not be ingested.   For this reason I don’t put the leaves into the composter but get rid of them in the bags of garden waste that go to the landfill.   As a youngster did you ever get a stalk of rhubarb to dip into a bowl of sugar?  Rhubarb is a tart fruit and the recipes always call for lots of sugar, so even though the rhubarb might be low in calories the recipes aren’t!!

Some of my favourite rhubarb recipes are 6 layer rhubarb cake and rhubarb apple crumble.  Follow the links to see the recipes.  This year I’m tempted to try a recipe from Marie’s blog, The English Kitchen, called Rhubarb Calfoutis.

rhubarb cake at
apple rhubarb crumble at

Do you have a favourite rhubarb recipe?

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12 Responses

  1. Kea

    I actually didn’t know that rhubarb was as vegetable, but it makes sense that it is. We had two large rhubarb patches growing up, and I loved going out to harvest it, huge knife in hand-whack! whack! at either end. Mom would stew it or make a rhubarb cake. I can’t remember if she’d make pies with it too, but I do like a strawberry-rhubarb pie in season!

  2. Nicola

    MMM, rhubarb and custard! My husband can eat it without sugar. I don’t know how!
    We have a small patch of it that comes up every year in our vegetable garden. I shall have to remember to cut some stalks soon. On the weekend we were planting two types of potatoes – we have five rows of each variety, one of which is called Arizona. It’s supposed to be good in dry cllimates, and we do have hot and dry summers here.

  3. Sandy Miles-Blaxland

    Rhubarb and strawberry pie with ice cream is a favorite of mine. When I lived in Nova Scotia, rhubarb was everywhere! I had friends who would call and ask me to come and take the rhubarb growing wild along the fence; and I would gladly comply. Here in Newfoundland, it doesn’t grow as rampantly as NS, but I do usually get enough to make a compot and a pie or two! LOVE rhubarb!

  4. Margie

    The only rhubarb dessert that I’ve enjoyed is strawberry rhubarb pie.

    • Margie

      P.S. But I’m willing to try the rhubarb crumble and cake!

  5. Yvette Chilcott

    yes,,,,,,,spring has finally arrived in our area! I’ve made lot’s of things with rhubarb; cake, a pie with custard using an old family recipe, “blender cake”, muffins, rhubarb ginger bug, and then last year tried rhubarb wine. It’s drinkable. 🙂 I hope we get a bit of spring before it turns into summer.

  6. ABC Wednesday

    yummieeeee in yammmm

    Have a splendid, ♥-warming ABC-Wednes-day / -week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♪ (ABC-W-team)

  7. Myrtle

    Very interesting recipe Linda, I will save and try soon, well maybe not soon, too busy, lol. Must get Al to dig up the rhubarb next visit and plant it somewhere at their place, it is growing quickly now

  8. Su-sieee! Mac

    I’ve eaten rhubarb a few times in pie form. I’ve hesitated in eating rhubarb because I thought the stalk also had oxalic acid. Now I know better. The leaves remind me of collard greens.

  9. Linda

    Love Rhubarb…reminds me of when I was a kid…
    Enjoy your evening…
    Linda :o)

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