What Makes Rhubarb So Special?

Not everyone loves rhubarb. It’s true. Rhubarb has a very tart or sour flavor, and if it’s near the end of the season and you harvest an older stalk, it can sometimes even be bitter. However, the sour flavor pairs very well with sweet strawberries, and it’s quite tasty in sweetened desserts, such as pies, crisps, crumbles, and pastries.

Fresh rhubarb stalks at the beginning of the season.

Rhubarb season is just about over here in the Northeast (zone 5a). It always seems like such a short season, but I think that’s because rhubarb isn’t something most people can find in stores throughout the year (you can have it shipped to you if you’re willing to pay $9-11 per lb. Ouch!). Unlike the plethora of fruits and vegetables grown in various locations and shipped around the world, it’s difficult to find rhubarb outside of the one month that it grows, and that’s primarily because it’s a cold-climate perennial. In a way, rhubarb’s extreme seasonality makes it extra special when the time comes to harvest and enjoy it.

There are, of course, ways to preserve rhubarb so you can make treats for an extended period of time, including freezing, which is one of the most popular methods, as well as simply rolling the stalks individually in aluminum foil (keeping the ends uncrimped) and storing them in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Ways to Use Rhubarb

If you’re looking for ways to use up the last of your rhubarb, you might be surprised by the number of rhubarb recipes available. Since we have a very large rhubarb patch, I decided to try three new rhubarb recipes this year. Here is the rundown of what I tried and how it went for each recipe.


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Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Muffins

Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Muffins make a great little snack. They’re sweet and tart. The trouble is, I couldn’t stop eating them after trying the recipe from A Spicy Perspective.

As someone who doesn’t eat gluten, I replaced the regular all-purpose flour in the recipe with 1:1 gluten-free replacement flour, and they turned out great.

Rhubarb Mead

This one is technically still in the works, as it takes 6 weeks to ferment and at least another 2 weeks to age in the bottle. So, I’ll be back to update the post when I’ve tried the results. However, if you’re looking to do something a little different with your rhubarb and you have a mason jar fermenting kit, you might try the recipe for Rhubarb Mead at Practical Self Reliance.

The recipe makes just a quart and only uses a cup of rhubarb, making it easy to try without risking a big, bad batch.

It is suggested that you use wine yeast and not bread yeast for this recipe. Unless you’ve made wine before, you might be surprised at how many options there are for wine yeast. With a little help from the Meadist website, I decided to use Lalvin K1-V1116.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam is a classic way to use rhubarb, but have you ever tried adding salt and pepper to the recipe? Rebecca Blackwell, author of the website Of Batter and Dough, explains why this isn’t as strange as it might seem in her recipe blog post for Strawberry Rhubarb Jam (No Pectin).

I was hesitant about the pepper, but I tried it with the full amount in the recipe. The pepper was prominent when I first tasted the jam, but after the jam cooled completely, all I could taste was delicious strawberry and rhubarb.

I ran out and bought more strawberries to make more jam.

Are You a Rhubarb Fan?

Just for fun, are you team rhubarb or team never-rhubarb? Leave a comment below.

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