Rhubarb is a vegetable that masquerades as a fruit – it’s very tart and slightly sweet, and only available during it’s short season.
When is rhubarb in season?
Rhubarb season starts in April and lasts through July. It can be grown throughout most of the US so there’s a chance you find it at a farmers market. See what else is in season at the same time: April, May, June, and July.
For the best rhubarb, look for crisp stalks with ends that aren’t dried out.
Cut off leaves if they are attached (the leaves are poisonous). Wrap tightly in plastic or a sealed bag to keep the moisture locked in and place in the fridge. It should last 1-2 weeks.
Should I buy organic?
To be safe, sure. However, there is no testing data published by the EPA on rhubarb, so the actual pesticide levels are unknown.
Does color indicate tartness?
This is debated and I see answers on all sides. However there are so many varieties of rhubarb and the variety has a big effect on flavor. While I’ve tested this myself, I am unable to give you an answer since so many other variables are in play (soil, climate, etc) in addition to the variety.
So rhubarb leaves are poisonous?
Yes, so make sure to cut them off if they are still attached. However, according to The Rhubarb Compendium, you would need about 11 pounds of rhubarb leaves for it to be lethal (still, don’t eat them)!
Now what should I make?
That’s a good question! Rhubarb are very tart and that needs to be considered when using it. One good example is to think of what might taste good with a tart apple and then use rhubarb instead (because apples aren’t in season when rhubarb is). A salad with granny smith apples? Try it with shaved rhubarb. Another option is to roast rhubarb with honey, adding sweetness to balance out that tartness. You also see a lot of desserts with rhubarb because it adds an interesting flavor and balances out the super-sweetness.
I also scour the internet to find recipes that use fresh, seasonal ingredients, often with a fun twist. Follow Ask The Food Geek on Pinterest or Facebook to get access to the recipes I find every day. Also, The Rhubarb Compendium has a good collection of recipes.
When paired with sweet fruits, it adds a complex flavor to the dish (or dessert). It also works great in savory dishes, adding a hint of sweetness.
Each recipe below only uses ingredients that are in season at the same time as rhubarb, or ingredients that have a year-round season. Since their season overlaps with the beginning or end of other fruits and vegetables, the recipes are grouped into early season, late season, or anytime they are available.
…For spring and anytime rhubarb is in season
Honey roasted rhubarb power greens salad – recipe from Cotter Crunch
Make this any time rhubarb is in season, as the rest of the ingredients are available year-round.
Mascarpone & rhubarb stuffed french toast – recipe from Sugar Hero
Beetroot rhubarb ice cream – recipe from Kiip Fit
Strawberry rhubarb coffee cake – recipes by Serena Bakes
…Recipes for early summer
Grilled summer vegetable sandwich with rhubarb BBQ sauce – recipe from Edible Perspective
Rhubarb is in season through July, so enjoy this sandwich in summer when summer veggies start showing up.