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How to choose, store and use rhubarb

By Toi Degree

Rowan Cooperative Extension

Have you ever had rhubarb? I know that is an interesting question for me to ask, but there are a lot of people who have never had it. Before now, I was one of them.

Rhubarb and its stalks are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong, tart taste. Although rhubarb is not a true fruit, in the kitchen it is usually prepared as if it were. Most commonly, the stalks are cooked with sugar and used in pies, crumbles and other desserts.

What about rhubarb

Rhubarb is quite delicious. And, because I work for a university that has a history of agriculture and research, I get to be a part of trials such as this. Our local food and horticulture agent, Danélle Cutting, chose to conduct a rhubarb trial to see just how well it would grow in our area, which proved to be quite successful. It also afforded us the opportunity to make various desserts with rhubarb and for me to discover just how tasty rhubarb can be.

Selection

Rhubarb can be red, partially red or green. Medium-size stalks are generally more tender than large ones, which may be stringy. Choose firm stalks which are not shriveled or limp. Only the stems are edible. Leaves should be discarded because they are poisonous. The stalks do not need to be completely blemish-free. Damaged spots can be trimmed away.

Storage

First, trim and discard leaves. Freshly harvested stalks can be kept in the refrigerator, unwashed and wrapped tightly in plastic for up to three weeks. Refresh rhubarb stalks by standing them in a pitcher that has partially been filled with cold water. Allow them to stand for a minimum of one hour. Rhubarb can be canned, and it also freezes well. Rhubarb can be packed into containers or freezer bags, raw or preheated. Raw rhubarb gives a good quality product when it is frozen without added sugar.

Uses

There are many uses for rhubarb including jams, jellies, desserts, quick bread, juice, pies and sauces.  Over the past few weeks, we have explored everything from strawberry rhubarb pie to muffins, custard bars, rhubarb pineapple jam, and brownies.

It has been a very tasty trip. So, if you are one of those people who have yet to try rhubarb, I encourage you to do so.  You just might find that you like it!

Here are the links to a few of the recipes that we tried:  Strawberry Rhubarb Pie –http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2016/05/13/strawberry-rhubarb-pie/

Rhubarb Custard Bars – http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/rhubarb-custard-bars

If you have any questions about rhubarb or other food related questions give me a call at 704-216- 8970. Toi N. Degree, Family & Consumer Education Agent at Rowan County Cooperative Extension toi_degree@ncsu.edu

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