If you are like me and you love rhubarb (I feel like it’s akin to pumpkin – you either love it or you hate it!). And, I doubt you’d be reading this if you hate it so, hail to rhubarb!! Read on to discover everything you ever wanted to know about rhubarb!!
There is nothing like that special something to get you thinking that spring is here and summer is just around the corner.
Think crocuses…think freshly turned soil on the neighboring farms…think signs posted reminding residents of weekly farmers markets…think RHUBARB!
I love rhubarb. I’m not sure why. I’m not going to tell you that I used to pick stalks and dip them in sugar before taking a big bite (I knew kids that did that…but not me). I’m not even going to tell you that my mom made weekly pies out of the stuff (she made a couple in her day but nothing that stuck in my head). I really think it’s because it’s one of the first few things I pick from the garden and whatever I make with it always involves copious amounts of sugar.
Isn’t that enough?
Rhubarb, with its vibrant red stalks and tangy flavor, is a unique vegetable (yup, that’s right – vegetable!!) that often finds its way into delectable desserts and savory dishes. Yet, beyond its appearance and taste, there is much more to know about this intriguing plant. In this blog post, we’ll explore the origins of rhubarb, its nutritional benefits, popular culinary uses, and even some interesting facts about this versatile ingredient.
- A Brief History: Rhubarb has a long and fascinating history that dates back thousands of years. Originating in Asia, specifically in China and Siberia, it was initially cultivated for its medicinal properties before being used in cooking. Rhubarb made its way to Europe in the 14th century and eventually gained popularity as a culinary ingredient. Today, it is widely cultivated in various parts of the world, including North America.
- Nutritional Benefits: Despite being low in calories, rhubarb is packed with essential nutrients. It is an excellent source of vitamin K, which promotes healthy blood clotting and bone health. Rhubarb also contains significant amounts of vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports the immune system and collagen production. Additionally, it provides dietary fiber, aiding digestion and contributing to overall gut health. However, it’s important to note that rhubarb leaves contain high levels of oxalic acid and should not be consumed due to their potential toxicity. Here’s more info on rhubarb if you’re interested!
- Culinary Uses: Rhubarb’s tart flavor adds a delightful twist to various culinary creations. It is often used in sweet dishes like pies, crumbles, and compotes, where the tanginess balances the sweetness of other ingredients. Rhubarb can also be stewed, preserved, or transformed into jams and jellies. Its unique flavor pairs exceptionally well with strawberries, creating a classic combination in desserts. Beyond sweets, rhubarb can be incorporated into savory dishes too. It can be pickled or used to create tangy sauces that complement meat dishes. Rhubarb chutney is another versatile condiment that can elevate sandwiches or cheese platters. The stalks can also be juiced or added to smoothies for a refreshing and healthy beverage option.
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Rhubarb – Interesting Facts:
- Rhubarb is often referred to as the “pie plant” due to its frequent use in pies, especially in North America.
- The color of rhubarb stalks can vary from red to green, depending on the variety.
- The intense tanginess of rhubarb is due to its high levels of malic and oxalic acid.
- Rhubarb is one of the first vegetables to emerge in the spring, making it a symbol of the changing seasons.
- Rhubarb is widely celebrated in festivals and events, such as the Rhubarb Triangle in West Yorkshire, England.
- In traditional Chinese medicine, rhubarb has been used for its laxative properties and to support digestive health.
- The largest rhubarb plant ever recorded measured over 10 feet tall!
- Rhubarb is often grown in colder climates, as it requires a period of dormancy with temperatures below 40°F (4°C) to thrive.
From its ancient origins to its versatile uses in the kitchen, rhubarb is truly a remarkable plant. Whether you enjoy its tangy taste in a comforting pie or experiment with it in savory dishes, this vegetable adds a unique and refreshing touch to any recipe. Remember to savor the stalks while leaving the leaves untouched due to their toxicity. So, the next time you encounter rhubarb at the grocery store or see it flourishing in a garden, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for this.