Rhubarb has the reputation of being an old fashioned vegetable, after reaching the peak of it's popularity around WWII. It's distinctive tartness is popular with some, but not everyone!
Season : Mid May to the end of June
Recipes: Simple Rhubarb Sauce (pictured to the right)
Rinse rhubarb in cool water and then wrap the bottom in damp paper towels. It should be kept in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.
- Rhubarb is most popular when made into a pie with strawberries.
- Delicious in cakes, breads, and muffins, rhubarb also makes a superb crisp.
- For the brave, rhubarb can be eaten raw... we recommend dipping it in sugar!
- It makes an excellent sauce to accompany meats, desserts, or served on ice cream.
- Jar up some rhubarb jam to enjoy this refreshingly tart vegetable all year.
The origins of rhubarb can be traced back to China at least 2700 years ago, where it was highly regarded for it's medicinal properties. While it was used medicinally in medieval Europe, the first recorded planting outside of China didn't occur until 1608. If early Europeans wanted rhubarb, they had to trade with China for it.
It took another 100 years for this tart vegetable to land on anyone's plate - rhubarb wasn't considered food until the early 1700's! But that's not too surprising, considering that the leaves are poisonous and parts of the plant can be used as a laxative. There is also an understandable connection between the decrease in cost of sugar and the new classification of rhubarb as food - have you ever bitten into a raw rhubarb stem? Rhubarb made it's first appearance stateside in the early 1800's, in Maine, where it has since gained the alias of "Pieplant".
- The part of the plant that we eat is the 'petiole', or stem.
- Rhubarb was so highly regarded it was given to Emperors as tribute and used as leverage for trade negotiations.
- A rhubarb flower is a large, beautiful, cluster of tiny, cream-colored blossoms on a thick, round stem.
Rhubarb contains some potassium and is low in sodium. It's a good source of vitamin C and dietary fiber.