First "Fruit" of Spring: Rhubarb

First "Fruit" of Spring: Rhubarb

Emma Christensen
May 7, 2012

No, you're absolutely right. Rhubarb is not a fruit, but is in fact a vegetable. Technically. But given its honored position as the first sign of something sweet after a long winter (and not to mention its affinity for cobblers, pies, and jams!), I think it's safe to say that rhubarb is a fruit in spirit. What do you make with it?

On their own, rhubarb stalks are strikingly sour and not at all like something you'd want to put in a dessert. Even cooked down, rhubarb will still pucker your mouth. But stir in a little sugar or mix it with other early season fruits, and rhubarb suddenly takes on a whole new character.

Strawberry and rhubarb are total buddies when it comes time to make pie, though raspberry and rhubarb aren't a bad pairing either. Rhubarb also makes a fantastic jam, especially when mixed with ginger. It also finds its way into tarts, cobblers, and bars for the length of rhubarb's growing season.

Rhubarb's savory side is less well known, though it makes total sense when you think about it. Its sour flavor can perk up grain salads, roast meat dishes, and stews. I particularly like it with slow-cooked lamb.

Generally, the deeper red the stalks, the sweeter the rhubarb will ultimately be. Buy stalks that are crisp and feel heavy for their size, never limp or wrinkled. They will keep in the fridge for at least a week and often longer. To prepare rhubarb, discard any leaves (which are not very tasty and poisonous in large quantities), and dice the stalks like celery. Cook the rhubarb to bring out its flavor.

Poached Rhubarb Royale
Big Pink Rhubarb Cake
Roasted Rhubarb Clafouti
Rhubarb-Lavender Crumble
Rhubarb-Basil Cocktail
Rhubarb for Dinner: Savory Rhubarb Recipes

What are your favorite rhubarb recipes?

Related: Fruit for Dessert: 15 Light & Simple Yet Special Fruit Treats

(Image: sarsmis/Shutterstock)

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