Your Guide to Shopping for, Storing, and Cooking Rhubarb
Here's what you need to know about spring's brightest star.
With its long leafy stalks and bright pink color, rhubarb will stop you in your tracks. This vivid vegetable is in season during spring and is worth stocking up on. Ahead, we explain how to shop for and store rhubarb so you can ensure you're getting the very best stalks. Along the way, we'll also share our favorite ways to cook and bake with rhubarb, as well as offer delicious ways to enjoy it all season long.
What Is Rhubarb?
With its pretty-in-pink color and use in so many sweet recipes like crumb cakes and strawberry pies, you might think rhubarb is a fruit; it's actually a vegetable. It is characterized by its pink-green stalks that have an incredibly tart flavor. In the ground, rhubarb has both stalks and leafy greens. Once you bring this vegetable home, trim the leaves off and dispose or compost them as they are not edible.
How to Shop for Rhubarb
This beautiful vegetable is in season during the spring—generally April to June—and can be found both at farmers' markets and grocery stores. Choose stalks that are firm to the touch and are medium-thick with leaves that are still bright green and sturdy (if they're wilted, that may be a sign that the rhubarb is past its peak). You may come across different varieties and methods for growing rhubarb such as hothouse rhubarb, which you'll find in season a bit earlier in spring than field grown rhubarb. Comparatively, its flavor is milder and has more texture is less stringy than field grown rhubarb, too.
You may also find frozen rhubarb in the freezer section of your grocery store during the off season.
Once you bring rhubarb home from the grocery store or farm stand, keep the bundle in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, which prevents them from drying out and maintains their crispy, crunchy texture. You can also freeze rhubarb if you want to preserve this tart beauty for months to come, though its texture and crunch may change once thawed. All you need to do is cut the stalks into one-inch pieces and lay them flat on a tray to freeze; once they're completely frozen, transfer the rhubarb to freezer-safe zip-top bags and store for up to one year.
Our Favorite Ways to Cook and Bake with It
Although rhubarb can be eaten raw, it's incredibly tart and is best cooked down with at least a little bit of sugar. One of the most quintessential parings is rhubarb and strawberries. See how these two bright red ingredients shine side by side in this Rhubarb-Strawberry Lattice Pie or our Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp. You could also keep it simple and make a Rhubarb Compote for spreading on toast or scones at breakfast.