Pies, tarts, and crisps, oh my! When you think of Rhubarb, what comes to mind? Rhubarb is often used in dessert recipes and paired with lots of sugar to balance out its tart flavor. A low-sugar, fruity dessert is a nice end to a balanced meal. Read on to learn how to use Rhubarb in a healthy way.
Like all fruits and vegetables, rhubarb is packed with minerals, vitamins, and other vital nutrients perfect for keeping your body healthy. Dietary fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin K, B vitamins, calcium, and potassium are just some of the nutrients found in rhubarb. It is also low in calories, fat, and cholesterol.
Did you know that the leaves on rhubarb stalks are poisonous? When coking with rhubarb, be sure to discard the leaves safely. The symptoms you might experience if you ingest rhubarb leaves are weakness, burning of the mouth, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and possibly coma. Few deaths have been reported from eating rhubarb leaves, but to be safe, don’t eat them!
When purchasing rhubarb from the grocery store or farmers market, look for crisp, blemish-free stalks that are about 1″ in diameter. Stalks are more flavorful when harvested early in the growing season (April through June). Rhubarb can be red, green, or even a combination of those colors – often called pink or speckled rhubarb. Although the color isn’t an indication of flavor, there is more vitamin A and other antioxidants in darker colors of rhubarb.
Growing your own rhubarb is easy. It’s a self-sustaining plant that comes back every season. Usually it will grow for 8-12 years and doesn’t require much maintenance. It’s a strong plant and can tolerate a fair amount of neglect. If you consider yourself to have a “black thumb”, this may be the perfect plant for your garden. For more information on growing rhubarb, click here.
Because rhubarb usually grows in abundance, freezing is a great way to preserve it. To freeze rhubarb you first need to wash, trim, and cut it into 1-2 inch pieces. Next, heat it in boiling water for one minute. You want to cool it promptly in cool water to help retain its color and flavor. Last, pack it into containers and stick it in the freezer. Rhubarb will stay good in your freezer for about 9 months.
Browsing online you will find many recipe ideas for rhubarb, from desserts and syrups to ketchup and barbecue sauce. Whichever rhubarb recipe you decide to try, remember to keep it healthy by watching the amount of added sugar. Some of my favorite rhubarb recipes are below. Enjoy!
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