As a fruit that cannot be eaten raw, rhubarb often seems to be overlooked in comparison to the easily eaten berries, bananas, and apples, of the world.
However, once cooked, it is a deliciously different flavour to add to many dishes, both sweet and savoury. Uniquely, rhubarb is actually the stalk of a large herb, but is defined as a fruit. It offers calcium, manganese, vitamin C, fibre, a host of antioxidants, and come winter is the perfect warmer to top off your breakfast.
Disclaimer: rhubarb leaves are poisonous, so be sure not to eat them!
How To Buy
Pick firm, crisp stalks with minimal blemishes and a red tinge. They should not be going soft or rubbery, be browning, or have dried out at the ends. Clean, shiny, fresh-looking skin is best. Any leaves that are still attached should not have wilted.
How To Store
Cut off the leaves and ends, wrap in loose clingfilm or paper towel, and store in the fridge. You can wash the stalks when you’re ready to use them.
Depending on freshness and storage they can keep in the fridge for up to two weeks and, once cooked, do well frozen. Rhubarb also holds well in preserves, chutneys, and jams.
How To Cook
Rhubarb is not the type of fruit you eat raw, and you should definitely dispose of all poisonous leaves.
When rhubarb is cooked it tends to leak a lot of juices and separates. It therefore works well as a soft or stewed topping, rather than as a neat decoration for cakes and desserts.
Stew with just a little water (they have plenty of juice of their own), on a low heat for up to half an hour, adding sugar to taste. Then enjoy as toppings for breakfasts and desserts, or even as an accompaniment to savoury dishes such as pork.
Alternatively chop up and add into numerous pies and crumbles – apple and rhubarb is a definite enticing winter favourite!
Rosy rhubarb adds a welcome splash of colour to cooking, baking and other kitchen endeavours. Try it in these recipes from our favourite chefs.
Illustration by Carla McRae
Words by Camilla Sampson