Farmer’s Market Finds: Rhubarb

Photo Credit: Gwendolyn Richards

Post by Contributing Writer, Nada

When she first introduced it to me, my friend called it “red celery”. I had never seen rhubarb before, much less heard of it. But after her mother gave us slices of rhubarb pie, I was hooked. It is hard to deny the tart and tangy flavor of this bizarre looking “fruit”.

There are two kinds of rhubarb. “Traditional” rhubarb seems thicker, heavier and more mellow in both color and flavor. “Hothouse” rhubarb, which incidentally is not necessarily grown in a hothouse, is usually thinner, lighter and rich in color and flavor.

Some people believe that the darker the color, the better the flavor, and you might be right — the darker the stalks, the more sour it is! Of course, your definition of “better” depends entirely on how tart you want your rhubarb!

rhubarb stalksPhoto Credit: awhiskandaspoon

When picking rhubarb, look for stalks that are firm and crisp when broken.  They should be glossy as well.  Avoid ones that are limp, dull colored and have cracks or damage. Also be aware that the thicker they are, the tougher and more fibrous they may be.  If you are picking it fresh from the garden, snap it off the plant, rather than cutting it off.

When storing rhubarb, wash it clean and trim away the leaves.  The stalks will stay fresh in your refrigerator for approximately five days.  If you plan to use it right away, store it upright in a pitcher or glass of clear water in order to help maintain its crispness. Otherwise it will store for up to two weeks in a sealed container or bag.  It can also be dried, canned or frozen.

A word of warning: the leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous. They contain high concentrations of oxalic acid crystals which can cause serious problems if eaten, including the swelling of the tongue and throat, which can restrict breathing.  They should be discarded immediately upon being harvested or prepared.

Rhubarb is a decent source of potassium, but an excellent source of vitamin C, and can be used in sauces, jams, jellies, in baking, in pies, cookies, and can also be used in many household chores, including hair dye, cleaning burnt pots, and even as an insecticide!  Rhubarb has also been used in common household medicines.  Here’s a simple recipe for a delicious Rhubarb Oatmeal Pie!

Rhubarb Oatmeal Pie

1/2 c. Melted Butter

1 1/2 c. Oatmeal

1/2 c. Flour

1/2 c. Brown Sugar

3 c. Rhubarb

2/3 c. Sugar

1 1/2 tsp. Flour

Crust:  Mix together the first four ingredients.  Put 3/4 of the mixture into a pie plate, reserving the rest for topping.

Filling:  Mix the remaining ingredients together and pour over the crust.

Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 30 minutes!

Nada is a first-time mom to a delightful little girl and the wife to a wise and wonderful man. With a background in fitness and nutrition, she enjoys healthy cooking, green cleaning and especially writing, and has acquired a vast knowledge of interesting little facts… about everything!She aspires to be a Godly woman that her daughter is proud to call “Mom” and through her blog, miniMOMist, she discusses how attachment parenting, minimalism, simplicity and frugal living help her in her everyday mission.

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