Rhubarb

Background Info:

  • Member of the buckwheat family
  • Vegetable that is rarely eaten raw
  • Leaves are inedible but beautiful in flower gardens

Health Benefits:

  • Low calorie
  • Low sodium
  • Low fat

Nutrition Information (1 cup):

  • Calories: 26
  • Calcium: 105 mg
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin K: 36 mcg

Taste:

  • Field-grown
    • Extra-juice & tender with a robust taste & bold acidity
    • Deep cherry-red
  • Hothouse-grown
    • Slightly milder with smoother flesh
    • Light pink to pale red, often speckled with green

Season:

  • Field-grown is available March through October, peaking between April & June
  • Hothouse-grown is available through December through March
  • Purchase frozen year round in the grocery store

Grow:

  • Perennial plant
  • Grows from crowns or seeds
  • Can flourish for a decade
  • Give full sun
  • Needs plenty of water & well-drained soil
  • Can thrive in otherwise neglected areas of cooler climates

Choose:

  • Select plump, firm, and unblemished stalks
  • Look for crisp stalks like celery
  • Green stalk are generally coarse and extra-tart
  • Pink & red types have a milder flavor

Store:

  • For use within the week:
    • Wrap unwashed stalks in a damp, clean kitchen towel to prevent from drying out
    • Keep in the refrigerator crisper for up to 5 days
  • For use within the year:
    • Rinse thoroughly and cut into 1 inch pieces
    • Freeze 10-12 months

Prep:

  • Just before using, chop off & discard the inedible leaves
  • Rinse the stalks beneath cold running water, you may need a brush
  • There may be fibrous skin to be removed
  • Chop entire stalk according to what you’re making
    • Slow-simmering recipes likes jam: 3″ chunks
    • Faster cooking sauce: finer dice
    • Dice fresh or frozen rhubarb to add to batters

Cook:

  • Often used in pies or as a jam
    • Add as a topping to yogurt or ice cream
  • Add diced rhubarb to pancakes, muffins, or cake batters
  • Combine with ginger, vanilla, lemon, oranges, peaches, or berries to bring out the flavor
  • Can also add color and meaty texture to savory dishes
    • Add to meat or fish as a chutney
  • Use nonreactive pans
    • If cooked in iron, aluminum, or copper cookware, this high-acid plant will darken the pan & turn the rhubarb an unappetizing brown

 

References:

“Rhubarb.” Shape Magazine. May 2014. 115.

“Red-hot rhubarb.” Weight Watchers. May/June 2014. 74.

Ramdene, Hali. “Rhubarb.” Better Homes and Gardens. May 2014. 124-135

Gay, Cindy. (2017, February 27). “Rhubarb: This Snappy Spring Vegetable is Not Just for Pies”. Retrieved from https://foodandnutrition.org/march-april-2017/rhubarb-snappy-spring-vegetable-not-just-pies/

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