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Rhubarb

May 05, 2017


Rhubarb

If you think you're looking at a delicious vegetable, think again. Rhubarb was actually designated as a fruit back in the 1940's.

Availability & Origin
You'll find that rhubarb comes in two different varieties; field and hothouse grown. Field rhubarb starts in the spring and ends early fall. Hothouse rhubarb starts early spring and ends around January, with a peak in the winter. These types grow in Canada, Europe, and the United Kingdom. Within the U.S., you'll see them growing in Maine, Michigan, Illinois, California, and the Pacific Northwest. 

Appearance & Flavor
Rhubarb has a texture similar to celery and a tart flavor when unsweetened. You'll know field-grown rhubarb by its dark red stalks and green leaves. The hothouse variety has pink to light red stalks and yellow leaves. Regardless of the variety, rhubarb leaves are toxic and should never be eaten.

Storage
Fresh, uncooked, and unwashed rhubarb wrapped in plastic wrap will last up to a week in the fridge. If you prefer to freeze it, take a look at these tips.  

Ways to Enjoy
After cooking the stalks with a sweetener, usually sugar, your rhubarb is then ready to be added to jams, pies, and other desserts. You can even pickle them. 

History
In China around 2800 B.C., rhubarb was used for trade and medicine. It wasn't until the 1800's that it was recognized as a food item. It is assumed that a London botanist sent rhubarb seeds to an American botanist around the same time.

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