Mastering the Art of Cooking Rhubarb

If you’re looking for a new and exciting way to add some flavor to your meals, mastering the art of cooking rhubarb is a great adventure to embark on. Rhubarb is a versatile and delectable vegetable that can be used in a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. Whether you prefer it in a pie, a crisp, or mixed into a sauce, there are endless possibilities when it comes to incorporating this tart and tangy vegetable into your cooking. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best ways to cook rhubarb and provide you with helpful tips and tricks along the way.

Mastering the Art of Cooking Rhubarb | Eat Urban Garden
Mastering the Art of Cooking Rhubarb

What is Rhubarb?

Rhubarb is a vegetable that belongs to the same family as sorrel and buckwheat. Despite being frequently considered as a fruit, rhubarb is actually a vegetable that is harvested in the springtime. Its leaves are poisonous and should not be ingested. However, its stem can be eaten, and it has a sour and unique taste that is often used in desserts and jams.

Appearance

Rhubarb is a plant with large reddish stalks and green leaves. Its stalks are the edible part of the plant and have a smooth surface. They are typically sold in bundles that can weigh anywhere from one to four pounds.

Taste

Rhubarb has a unique, tart taste that is less sweet than ordinary fruits. Its flavor is often described as astringent and acidic. The stem’s sour taste is balanced out with sugar when it is used in cooking recipes.

Nutrition Information

Rhubarb is a nutritious vegetable that is low in calories and fat-free. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, 100 grams of raw rhubarb stalks contain the following nutrients:

  • 21 calories
  • 0.2g fat
  • 1.8g protein
  • 4.5g carbohydrates
  • 1.8g fiber
  • 6.5g sugar

Origin

Rhubarb has a long history that dates back to ancient China, where it was used for medicinal purposes. The plant was gradually introduced throughout Asia and later became popular in Europe and North America. Nowadays, it is grown in many countries all over the world, including Australia, New Zealand, and the United States.

How to Choose the Perfect Rhubarb

As a cooking expert, you know that choosing the right ingredients is crucial for making a perfect recipe. And the same goes for rhubarb.

Appearance and Texture

When choosing rhubarb, always go for the stalks that are bright in color. The redder the stalk, the sweeter it is. However, the color isn’t the only thing to look for. You should also choose stalks that are firm to the touch and not limp. The thickness of the stalk is another important element to consider. Thick stalks will have a more intense flavor than thinner ones, but don’t disregard thinner stalks either, as they are more tender and cook much faster.

Seasonality and Freshness

Rhubarb season varies depending on where you live, but it typically starts in spring and ends in early summer. So, if you want to find freshly harvested rhubarb, the best time to buy it is in April or May. However, if you want to buy rhubarb off-season, you can find it in the frozen section of your grocery store.

  • When buying fresh rhubarb, look for moist ends and remove the leaves, which are inedible and can cause illness.
  • If you buy rhubarb with dry ends, it could be an indication that the stalks have been sitting for too long.

Preparing Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a delicious and versatile plant that can be used to add flavor to a variety of dishes. However, before cooking with rhubarb, it is important to properly prepare it by cleaning, washing, and chopping it.

Cleaning Rhubarb

The first step in preparing rhubarb is to clean it. Begin by removing any leaves from the stem. Rhubarb leaves contain a toxin that can be harmful if ingested, so it is important to discard them. Once the leaves have been removed, rinse the rhubarb under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris.

Washing Rhubarb

After cleaning the rhubarb, it is important to wash it thoroughly. Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the rhubarb. Swish the rhubarb around in the water to help remove any lingering dirt or debris. Rinse the rhubarb again under cold running water.

Chopping Rhubarb

Once the rhubarb has been cleaned and washed, it is time to chop it. Begin by cutting off the ends of the stems. You can then slice the stems into pieces of your desired length. Rhubarb is usually chopped into pieces that are about ½ inch to 1 inch long.

Expert Tips and Tricks for Cooking Rhubarb

When it comes to cooking rhubarb, there are a few tips and tricks you should keep in mind to ensure that your dishes come out perfectly every time. Here are our expert tips:

1. Choose the Right Rhubarb

When selecting rhubarb for cooking, you want to choose stalks that are firm and crisp. Look for stalks that are a deep red color with minimal green areas.

2. Don’t Overcook

Rhubarb can quickly turn mushy if overcooked. Cook it just until it’s tender, but still holds its shape. This will ensure that your dishes have a nice texture.

3. Remove the Leaves

Rhubarb leaves are toxic and should always be removed before cooking. Trim the leaves and discard them, then wash and prep the stalks.

4. Add Sugar

Rhubarb is naturally tart and requires some sweetness to balance it out. Sugar is the most common way to sweeten rhubarb, and the amount you’ll need will depend on the recipe and your personal taste.

5. Experiment with Flavor Combinations

Rhubarb pairs well with a variety of flavors, including strawberries, citrus, and ginger. Experiment with different combinations to find your favorite flavor profiles.

Pro tip: Did you know that you can also grill rhubarb for a unique and delicious flavor? Simply brush the stalks with oil and grill for a couple of minutes on each side until they’re tender.

Rhubarb Recipes to Try Today

Rhubarb has a unique flavor that can add an interesting twist to your cooking. Whether you have been cooking with rhubarb for years or are just starting, there’s always something new to try. Here are some rhubarb recipes to spice up your cooking.

Classic Rhubarb Pie

The classic rhubarb pie is a delicious dessert that has been enjoyed for generations. This recipe will show you how to make the perfect rhubarb pie.

  • 1 double crust pie dough (store-bought or homemade)
  • 4 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon milk

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Roll out the bottom crust and place it into a 9-inch pie dish. In a mixing bowl, combine the rhubarb, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Dot the top of the mixture with the butter. Roll out the top crust and place it over the pie. Cut off any excess crust and crimp the edges to seal. Brush the egg wash over the top of the pie crust. Cut slits into the top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake for about 50-60 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Let the pie cool before slicing and serving.

Rhubarb Crumble

This rhubarb crumble is a quick and easy dessert that you can make any time. It’s perfect for when you’re craving something sweet but don’t have a lot of time on your hands.

  • 4 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 375°F. In a mixing bowl, combine the rhubarb and a 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Pour the mixture into a 9×9 inch baking dish. In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, rolled oats, cinnamon, and the remaining brown sugar. Cut the butter into the mixture using a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top of the rhubarb. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crumb topping is golden brown. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Rhubarb Chutney

Rhubarb chutney is a great condiment to have on hand. It’s perfect when paired with cheese, meats, or served with crackers. Here’s how to make it.

  • 1 pound rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

In a saucepan, combine the rhubarb, onion, cranberries, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat to low. Add the ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Simmer the mixture for 20-25 minutes or until the rhubarb has broken down and the mixture has thickened. Let the chutney cool before serving.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Crisp

This rhubarb and strawberry crisp is a delicious dessert that combines two classic flavors.

  • 3 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled

Preheat your oven to 375°F. In a mixing bowl, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, granulated sugar, flour, and salt. Pour the mixture into a 9×9 inch baking dish. In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, and butter. Cut the butter into the mixture using a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top of the rhubarb and strawberry mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crumb topping is golden brown. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Rhubarb Jam

Rhubarb jam is a great way to preserve the flavor of rhubarb all year round. Here’s how to make it.

  • 4 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 lemon, juiced

In a saucepan, combine the rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture for 30-40 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and the rhubarb has broken down. Pour the jam into sterilized jars and let it cool before storing it in the refrigerator.

Rhubarb Margarita

This rhubarb margarita is a great way to use up any leftover rhubarb. Here’s how to make it.

  • 1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1/2 ounce triple sec

In a saucepan, combine the rhubarb, sugar, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture for 10-15 minutes or until the rhubarb has broken down. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a mixing bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Let the mixture cool. Add the lime juice, tequila, and triple sec to the mixture and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into glasses with ice and serve.

Thank You for Joining the Rhubarb Cooking Journey

It’s been a pleasure taking you through the many ways to cook rhubarb – from pies to savory dishes, drinks, and desserts. With this newfound knowledge in hand, you can now enjoy the deliciousness and nutritional benefits of rhubarb in various dishes. If you are passionate about cooking, don’t hesitate to try out these recipes in your kitchen.

Check back soon for more exciting recipes that are bound to tantalize your taste buds. Until then, happy cooking!

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