Rhubarb is a traditional plant in the cottage garden and grows as a perennial (it comes back every year). It's a large, showy plant that provides season after season, and is BEYOND easy to grow!! There are different varieties, some more red than others, but they all taste roughly the same. My variety, sadly isn't as red as I'd like it, but when combined with a red fruit like strawberries or cherries, it will take on the color of the other berries. To harvest it, you simply tear off the stem of the plant at its base. It's season is best from May-early July, but can be harvested all summer. Be sure that you DON’T EAT THE LEAVES: while they look beautiful and just like swiss chard, they are very high in oxalic acid and can cause extreme sickness. Eat only the stalks, and enjoy. Save the leaves for your enemies (I’m just kidding, I hope you don’t have any enemies!).
Rhubarb can be a little stringy (due to its high fiber content). Often when I cut it, the outer layer will peel slightly. Peel this off and remove it in other areas as it happens. If you love rhubarb, you can freeze it also. Just wash and slice as you would for cobblers or muffins, place on a cookie sheet and freeze for 2 hours. Remove from the freezer and place into freezer bags or, better yet, a vacuum sealed bag. We love our vacuum sealer. It’s great for so many things, and really keeps your food better sealed. This way, you can make rhubarb pies, tarts, and chutneys all year long!
Rhubarb has some great health benefits. It's a good source of fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, B complex vitamins, calcium (as much as a glass of milk in 1 serving!), potassium, manganese, and magnesium, while being very low in calories. In terms of organic compounds, rhubarb is a rich source of polyphenolic flavonoids like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. It does contain oxalic acid (highest levels in leaves, which is why you shouldn't eat them). Because of this, those who suffer from kidney issues and gout, should avoid eating rhubarb.
If you’ve got some berries….you’re ready to dig in and make some rhubarb cobbler! You can make a healthy cobbler that's so great, you can eat it for breakfast!
For one of my older recipes (before I was www.gardenfreshfoodie.com) check out this Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler recipe
Until next week...happy, healthy eating!
Jessica from www.gardenfreshfoodie.com