What is Rhubarb: Taste, uses, and nutrition

Rhubarb is a vegetable with long, thick stalks that are commonly used in sweet and savory dishes, and has a tart flavor similar to that of a lemon.

What is Rhubarb

Are you looking for a vegetable that is both tart and sweet, with a bright red stalk that is as beautiful as it is delicious? Then look no further than rhubarb! This unique and versatile plant has been prized for centuries for its distinctive flavor and wide range of culinary uses.

Whether you enjoy it in a classic strawberry rhubarb pie, a tangy sauce to complement savory meats, or a refreshing addition to cocktails, rhubarb will tantalize your taste buds and leave you wanting more.

So why not discover the world of rhubarb and add a new dimension of flavor to your cooking repertoire today?

What is Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a tart and sweet vegetable that has been prized for centuries. It is known for its bright red stalks that are as beautiful as delicious.

Rhubarb is believed to have originated in Asia and can grow up to two feet in length. It has a relatively short growing period, usually between April and June.

If you want to add a unique and versatile flavor to your culinary creations, rhubarb is perfect.

Interesting facts about rhubarb:

OriginChina, where it was used for medicinal purposes for over 5,000 years
SizeTypically grows 2-3 feet in height, with leaves up to 2 feet in width
Growing periodTakes 1-2 years to establish and grow to full size; harvest season is typically April to June
Nutritional valueLow in calories and high in vitamins C and K, as well as potassium and calcium
UsesCommonly used in pies, crisps, jams, and sauces, as well as in savory dishes like stews and marinades
ToxicityThe leaves are toxic and should not be consumed, as they contain high levels of oxalic acid

Taste of Rhubarb

The taste is unique and distinctive, with a tart and slightly sour flavor that is balanced by a subtle sweetness. The stalks of the plant are edible and have a crisp and crunchy texture when raw.

When cooked, they become tender and juicy, and the tartness of the rhubarb is often balanced by adding sugar or other sweeteners.

It is commonly used in desserts, such as pies and crumbles, but can also be used to add a tangy flavor to savory dishes, like sauces and chutneys.

Are the leaves okay to eat on a Rhubarb?

No, the leaves of rhubarb are poisonous and should not be consumed. They contain high levels of oxalic acid, which can cause kidney failure, among other health problems. It is important to remove the leaves from the stalks and discard them before using rhubarb in cooking or baking. Only the stalks are safe to eat.

Nutrional value

Chart that shows the nutritional value of 1 cup (122 grams) of raw diced rhubarb:

NutrientAmount% Daily Value*
Protein1 g2%
Carbohydrates6 g2%
Fiber2 g8%
Sugars1 gN/A
Fat0 g0%
Saturated Fat0 g0%
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Sodium5 mg0%
Potassium351 mg10%
Vitamin A102 IU2%
Vitamin C9 mg15%
Calcium86 mg9%
Iron0.5 mg3%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

How to choose

When selecting, look for stalks that are firm, crisp, and brightly colored, with no signs of wilting or discoloration. The stalks should be thick and have a good weight to them. Avoid stalks that are limp or have soft spots, as these are signs of spoilage.

It’s also a good idea to choose a deep red color, as this indicates that it is fully ripe and will have a more robust flavor. However, some varieties of rhubarb may have a greenish tint to them even when they are fully ripe, so don’t rely solely on color as an indicator of ripeness.

If you purchase this from a grocery store or market, try to choose stalks that have been freshly harvested, as it can begin to lose its flavor and nutritional value soon after it is picked. You can also look for the label organic, as this means it has been grown without harmful pesticides and chemicals.

cooking methods

Rhubarb on cutting board: Source: Nicole Perry

Rhubarb can be prepared in various ways and used in sweet and savory dishes. Here are some common cooking methods:

  • Baking: This is a popular ingredient in baked goods, such as pies, crumbles, and cakes. When baking with rhubarb, sugar and other fruits, such as strawberries, are often combined with balancing its tart flavor.
  • Stewing: Stewing is a popular method in sauces, jams, and compotes. To stew, simply chop the stalks into small pieces and simmer them in water or fruit juice until they are soft and tender.
  • Grilling: Grilled rhubarb is a unique and flavorful addition to savory dishes, such as meats and vegetables. Simply brush the stalks with oil and grill them over medium heat until they are lightly charred and tender.
  • Roasting: Roasting brings out its natural sweetness and adds depth of flavor to sweet and savory dishes. To roast, chop the stalks into bite-sized pieces, toss them with oil and spices, and roast them in the oven until they are caramelized and tender.
  • Raw: Rhubarb can also be eaten alone or as a garnish for salads and other dishes. Removing the leaves is essential when eating raw rhubarb, as they are toxic and can cause illness if ingested.


Proper storage is essential to keep this vegetable fresh and flavorful. Here are some tips for storing:

  • Refrigerate: Refrigerate as soon as possible after it is harvested or purchased. Wrap the stalks loosely in plastic wrap or place them in a plastic bag and store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.
  • Do not wash: Do not wash before storing it, as moisture can cause the stalks to deteriorate more quickly.
  • Use within a week: It is best when used within a week of harvesting or purchase. After that, it may lose its flavor and become less crisp.
  • Freeze: Rhubarb can be frozen for long-term storage. Simply chop the stalks into small pieces, place them in an airtight container or freezer bag, and freeze them for up to 6 months.
  • Avoid contact with ethylene: Rhubarb is sensitive to ethylene gas, which some fruits and vegetables release as they ripen. Store away from ethylene-producing foods like apples and bananas to prevent spoilage.

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