Is it a vegetable or a fruit? Technically it is a perennial vegetable but has legally changed their category to fruit.
Rhubarb may be pale green with hints of pink to a gorgeous deep ruby. You should not pick rhubarb into July, because it is a plant that recharges itself and needs adequate time so you will have a good harvest next year.
Its season is from May to June. Short, like my other favourite produce for pies.
When harvesting, pull the stalk that is ready for picking, from the base, like separating celery, being careful not to uproot it of course. Do not cut pieces off for harvesting because what is left will rot, affecting the whole rooted plant.
It seems to me, it is best planted with other produce with short roots, or root vegetables. My cousin says it grows very well with her asparagus.
Not with produce that grow on vines, like squash or grapes. The roots might interfere.
Someone told me they peel theirs so it is not stringy.
Don’t do that. You will lose that beautiful ruby red, and that ruby red is where the anthocyanins, an antioxidant, are. Anthocyanins are anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is the root of many diseases like arthritis and cancer.
It is rich in phenolic acid, the antioxidant found in other red produce and green tea, which is good for your skin, and a good source of vitamin K, needed for proper blood clotting and help to maintain healthy bones, and Vitamin A, to prevent skin damage.
When you slice it across, just slice it thinner and it won’t be stringy.
If you use aluminum pots, don’t.
And if you do anyway, do not use them to cook rhubarb.
Don’t use cast iron either though, or copper.
When you cook rhubarb in your stainless steel pots, a bonus is, they will be sparkling clean. You could also use glass cookware.
Is it poisonous? Rhubarb contains oxalic acid, but the high levels are in the leaves.
Oxalic acid causes damage to the kidney and heart, but you would have to eat a large amount to fall very ill. A little will make you unwell enough though.
If oxalic acid sounds familiar, many nutritious green leafy vegetables, and other produce (beets, legumes, almonds) contain oxalic acid, but in far lower amounts and their benefits outweigh the risks. Most people wouldn’t eat that much anyway, and in normal amounts, the body is able to naturally get rid of oxalic acid.
Like cranberries and lemons, rhubarb is too sour and bitter to eat plain and fresh.
Some people dip fresh pieces in granulated sugar at the first harvest.
They are best eaten baked in something and often take a lot of sugar, like cranberries and lemons do.
And like cranberries and lemons, there are a lot of good things about rhubarb.
A very good source of vitamin K which is and proper blood clotting. It is high in fibre and good for your heart health.
But you do need to add sugar to enjoy it at all, so it is a bit of a treat, but worth it. You know, “A spoonful of sugar”.