Rhubarb

Peak Season:

Late June to August

Picking & Handling:

Rhubarb is harvested by grabbing the base of the leaf petiole (stalk), pulling and twisting as you shear the stalk off at the base. The stalk is immediately separated from the leafy portion (which contains oxalic acid as well as poisonous glycosides). In addition, the leaves drain away nutrients from the stalk. Look for firm, crisp, bright-red coloured stalks. Rhubarb can be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with high humidity levels and can last for 2 weeks like that. Fresh rhubarb stalks have a rich sweet and tart flavour.

To prepare rhubarb for baking, trim the ends using a paring knife, wash the stalks in cold running water, and gently scrub the surface of the stalks using your fingers. Cut the stalks into ½ inch to 1 inch pieces using a paring knife.

Rhubarb is very versatile and can be used in jams, baking, and spreads. Rhubarb turns soft when cooked and can provide volume and texture to a dish in addition to acidity and tartness. Many people like to eat fresh rhubarb raw, sometimes by dipping the stalk into sugar, honey or salt. The acidity of rhubarb makes it a great offset for sweet fruits (such as strawberries, saskatoons, or haskaps) when baking or the acidity can be offset by the addition of sugar in a recipe. Rhubarb can also be sliced or diced and frozen for up to a year for later use.

Nutritional information:

Nutritionally, it is low in calories (1 cup, diced contains approximately 26 calories.) This vegetable is made up of about 95% water, and is quite acidic (pH 3.1). Rhubarb contains a fair amount of potassium, vitamin C, Vitamin A, dietary fibre, and calcium.

Calories

Protein

Vit. A

Vit. C

Vit. K

Cholesterol & Fat

 26

1.0 gms

122 IU

10 mg

29.3 ug

(24% RDA)

0 gms

Carbs

Potassium

Dietary Fibre

Calcium

Folic Acid

Sodium

 6 gms

 351 mg

2.0 gms

105 mg

8.7 mg

0 gms 

(based on 1 cup of diced fresh rhubarb)

Rhubarb is low calorie while still holding some vital phyto-nutrients such as dietary fiber, poly-phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Further, its petioles contain no saturated fats or cholesterol. Rhubarb stalks are rich in several B-complex vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid. Red colour stalks carry more vitamin-A than in the green varieties. Further, the stalks also contain small amounts of poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds like β-carotene, zea xanthin, and lutein. These compounds convert into vitamin A inside the human body and deliver same protective effects of vitamin A. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant which is required by the body for maintaining integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for healthy eye-sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help the body protects against lung and oral cavity cancers. Rhubarb stalks also provide vitamin-K. 100 g of fresh stalks provide 29.3 µg or about 24% of daily recommended intake of this vitamin. Vitamin K helps with bone health by promoting bone formation and strengthening activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain and is reportedly used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Rhubarb stalks also contain healthy levels of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Rhubarb also has claims of additional health benefits, such as anti-cancer properties, aiding indigestion, lowering blood pressure, diminishing hot flashes, lowering cholesterol, and reports of anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergy properties.

Facts:

Rhubarb is a perennial grown for its attractive succulent rose red, edible leafy stalks. This cool season plant is native to Siberia, and is known in many places as the “pie plant.” Rhubarb belongs to the family of Polygonaceae in the genus Rheum. Rhubarb has edible, long, fleshy, petioles (stalks attaching the leaf blade to the stem) and is actually classified as a vegetable, not a fruit.

Rhubarb is easy to grow and lives for many years (10-15 years) once established. A rhubarb plant features broad, heart shaped, dark-green leaves with 12 to 18 inches long leaf-petioles. It is these petioles which are being used (after discarding their leaf part) for human consumption. Its petioles (stalks) can be ready for harvesting from second year onwards once the stalks reach a sufficient size of about one to two inches in thickness.

Rhubarb has been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years, particularly rhubarb root. In fact it is one of the most commonly used herbs in Chinese Medicine. In traditional China, rhubarb root was used for curing stomach ailments, relieving severe constipation, and as a poultice for fevers and swelling.

Our Rhubarb:

We planted 10 rhubarb plants of the German Wine variety in the spring of 2015. German Wine is considered one of the sweetest variety of rhubarb available. We chose this variety for its sweetness and large red stalks which are good for both eating raw and using in baking. Our rhubarb is really doing well this year and every day our oldest son, P, asks to stop by the rhubarb patch for a stalk of rhubarb to eat (dipped in sugar of course)!

Click here to see some of our rhubarb recipes!