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How to Prepare, Cook and Use Rhubarb

Updated April 6, 2020
Rhubarb is a mysterious plant, and if it’s weirdly celery-looking state has left you scratching your head, you’re not alone. Ready to get more acquainted with this seasonal treat? Here’s the 401 on how to use rhubarb.

How to Buy Rhubarb

If you have no idea what rhubarb looks like, the best way to describe it is as pinkish green with celery-like stalks. Look for stalks that are fresh and crisp with shiny skins. Avoid limp stalks with split ends, which indicates a lack of freshness.

When is Rhubarb in Season?

Rhubarb is only around for a short while, so enjoy it when you can! Rhubarb is in season from mid spring through early summer, from about April to June. In the United States, rhubarb is mostly grown in the northeast, so if you live outside of that region, you might have to hunt for yours!

How to Prep Rhubarb for Cooking

To prepare rhubarb, trim the leaves first. Never eat the leaves of rhubarb, as they have toxic levels of oxalic acid and should not be eaten! Wash the stalks and cut off the leaves near the base.

Check the rhubarb for any blemishes and use a vegetable peeler to remove them.

Cut rhubarb into 1/4 inch pieces in preparation for a sauce or pie. You want to store the rhubarb in stalk form so that it will stay fresh longer. Cut it right before using.

How to Cook with Rhubarb

Rhubarb is technically a vegetable but is usually prepared as a fruit would be. It's often used in sauces, pies, muffins, and cakes. Its tart flavor lends itself to sweet pairings. The most basic way to prepare rhubarb is as a sauce or loose jam. Rhubarb sauce can be served as a side to meat or served over ice cream or pound cake.

The most important thing to know about how to cook rhubarb is that is must be cooked down. The fibrous texture of this vegetable is too tough to enjoyably chew. But when cooked down and sweetened up, rhubarb is a real delight.

More Rhubarb Recipes

rhubarb meringue pie

From breakfast to snack time to dessert, there are lots of ways to use rhubarb. Add it to blondies, cook it into a pie, or even serve it up in a drink. Head over to our tastiest and best rhubarb recipes here.