If you’ve ever meandered through the fresh food aisle of your local supermarket and wondered, ‘who dyed the celery pink?’ you were probably looking at a bunch of fresh rhubarb – the flamingo of the edible plant world. Bringing together its vibrant pink stalks and deliciously tart taste, rhubarb is your go-to ingredient for brightening up wintry desserts.
How do you select the best rhubarb on the shelf?
Rhubarb season spans through the cooler months, and is at its peak during July; so, it’s best to make the most of this palatable plant in all your winter crumbles, sweet pies and cakes while you can.
When you’re selecting your rhubarb at the supermarket or grocer, look for the bunch with the brightest pinkish-red stalks. Floppy stems, white marks and bruises can indicate that the rhubarb may have been on the shelf for quite some time since it was picked.
How do you store rhubarb?
If you can resist cooking and eating it all at once, wrap your leftover rhubarb tightly (in cling film, for example) and you can keep it in the fridge for around five days.
If you’d like to freeze rhubarb and extend its season that little bit longer, it’s best to cut the stalks into bite-sized pieces, briefly blanch the pieces in boiling water, drain and rinse under cold water, then dry off and pop them in the freezer in a sandwich bag or container. If you want to eat rhubarb all year-round, you could try preserving it in chutneys or jams too.
How do you cook and eat rhubarb?
The first thing to be aware of is that you should never eat the green leaves on your rhubarb stalks (nor feed them to pets), as they are not suitable for consumption and can be toxic. Once you’ve removed the leaves, you’re good to go.
When eaten raw, rhubarb might cause your face to pucker, so we highly recommend only eating rhubarb once it’s cooked.
This pretty ingredient pairs beautifully with sweet ingredients – like sugar, agave nectar and honey, which balance out its tart qualities – as well as citrus fruits and ginger. It shines best when it’s slow-cooked, stewed, poached or baked, and forms a wonderful topper for yoghurts, porridge and simple desserts – especially vanilla ice-cream.
You don’t need to add much liquid when cooking with rhubarb, because it releases liquid as it softens. Cook until it’s juicy and soft for the best rhubarb texture.
If you’d like to get cooking with rhubarb, test these tempting treat recipes
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