How to Freeze Rhubarb

published May 7, 2024
How to Freeze Rhubarb

So you can enjoy it anytime of year.

Makes2 to 4 cups

Prep5 minutes

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rhubarb on a sheet tray
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Ola Wadley

With its bright pink hue and long, sturdy stalks, rhubarb is an unmistakable sign of spring. It’s one of those things that you can only find at a certain time of year, but when it’s in season, it’s everywhere. I grow rhubarb in my garden every year, and I use it for pies and to make syrup for cocktails, but I always have more than enough, so I decided to learn how to freeze rhubarb to make the most of my bumper crop. Turns out, it’s simple to do, and it’s a great way to extend rhubarb’s fleeting season for a little bit longer. Here’s what you need to know.

Credit: Alex Lepe

How to Buy Rhubarb

Rhubarb starts showing up in the early spring at grocery stores and farmers markets. Look for bright, shiny, unblemished rhubarb stalks that are firm to the touch. If the leaves are still attached, they should be bright green and not wilted. (You’ll need to remove them, as they are toxic to humans.) Although it’s tempting to reach for the bigger, fatter stalks of rhubarb, the more slender stalks are usually sweeter and more tender — something to keep in mind depending on how you want to use your bounty.

How to Freeze Rhubarb

  • Wash rhubarb, remove any leaves, and trim the ends.
  • Cut into 1-inch pieces (or the desired size for your recipe).
  • Spread in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Freeze for at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.
  • Remove from the baking sheet and store in a labeled freezer storage bag.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Ola Wadley

Should Frozen Rhubarb Be Thawed Before Using?

Freezing rhubarb is a smart way to make your haul last longer, but doing so will change the physical integrity of the vegetable (yes, it’s a vegetable, but it’s best friends with fruit, so it’s kind of an honorary fruit.) Frozen and thawed rhubarb will be very soft and will give off a lot of liquid in the thawing process that you can choose to use or drain.

It’s important to thaw frozen rhubarb before using it in baking recipes because the liquid that rhubarb gives off can change the recipe considerably. To avoid this, thaw thoroughly beforehand by placing the frozen rhubarb in a colander over a bowl. The rhubarb will appear to “shrink” as it releases water, so measure the rhubarb once it’s fully thawed. For compotes, jams, and drinks, you can use rhubarb without thawing it first because the liquid will be incorporated into the recipe.

How to Use Frozen Rhubarb

  • Combine with other spring and summer produce for a sweet and tangy lattice-topped pie.
  • Create a quick compote with rhubarb and sugar, and swirl it into vanilla yogurt or layer it with yogurt and granola to make a parfait.
  • Use rhubarb to make a simple syrup for cocktails and mocktails.
  • Cook the rhubarb down with sugar and purée it. Then use the purée to flavor (and color) frosting.
Credit: Yossy Arefi

Best Recipes for Frozen Rhubarb

How to Freeze Rhubarb

So you can enjoy it anytime of year.

Prep time 5 minutes

Makes 2 to 4 cups

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4 to 8

    stalks rhubarb

Instructions

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  1. Wash 4 to 8 rhubarb stalks, remove any leaves, and trim the ends.

  2. Cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces or the desired size for your recipe.

  3. Arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until solid, at least 3 or up to 24 hours.

  4. Transfer to a labeled freezer zip-top bag. Remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing (use a vacuum sealer if you have one). Freeze for up to 6 months.

Recipe Notes

If you know the size of the rhubarb needed for the recipes you commonly make, cut it into that size (1-inch pieces are fairly standard for many baking recipes).

Using frozen rhubarb: Frozen rhubarb can be used just like fresh rhubarb in most cooked applications. Note that it will not be firm and crunchy anymore, so previously frozen rhubarb would not be a good choice for salsas or other recipes where its texture is featured.