It's Rhubarb Season, So Here's What You Need to Know!

Ingredient Intelligence

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Right now, there are few things more wonderful than the return of rhubarb. My first experience with rhubarb was in my early teens, and came in the form of a wide slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie, complete with a flaky crust and scoop of vanilla ice cream. This pie may have been my first brush with falling in love. I was mesmerized by the ping pong of sweet and tart flavors.

Now that we're smack dab in the midst of rhubarb season, let’s talk rhubarb basics and what you need to know.

Rhubarb is a long, stalky plant that looks quite a bit like celery. It can range in color from deep red to light pink, and even pale green. According to the vendor at my local farmers market, despite subtle differences in sweetness, color doesn't indicate a significant variation in the taste or freshness.

Rhubarb can be found with or without leaves. Keep in mind that only the stalks are edible; the leaves are toxic.

Tips for Buying & Storing Rhubarb

  • Firm, crisp stalks: Look for stalks that are firm, crisp and blemish free.
  • Fresh leaves: If the leaves are attached, be sure they look fresh and not wilted.
  • April through June: Although you can find rhubarb from as early as mid-spring and throughout the summer, prime season runs from April to June.
  • Store unwashed, in the refrigerator: Store rhubarb unwashed, in the refrigerator, for up to one week.

Make your rhubarb haul last longer by freezing it: Freeze It Now to Use Later

Have you ever tasted raw rhubarb? I did, once, and I don’t really recommend it. While it doesn't have a lot of flavor, raw rhubarb very tart and quite stringy. There's a good reason it's most often served cooked or baked.

5 Rhubarb Recipes to Try This Spring

What's your favorite rhubarb recipe?

(Image credits: Kelli Dunn)

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