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Buying, Storing and Cooking Rhubarb

INGREDIENT SPOTLIGHT

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Rhubarb looks a bit like red celer but has nothing in common despite its red-green stalks and tart taste. Rhubarb is normally used as a fruit in sweet preparations but it’s not always the case. Rhubarb alone is very very tart. You can either use it for its tartness, or cook it with sugar or other sweet fruits, which is the most common use: pies, preserves, crumbles, and compotes, often paired with strawberries.

Buying and storing rhubarb:

Look for firm and crisp rhubarb stalks intact stems. Rhubarb can vary from deep red to pale green depending the variety. Red rhubarb is usually sweeter and richer in taste. If you have the opportunity, look for rhubarb still with the root as it usually keeps longer than trimmed stalks. It also indicates that the stalk was truly mature when it was harvested. Ready-to-harvest rhubarb can be pulled from the plant with a gentle tug.
Store your rhubarb in the coldest part of your refrigerator and use it as quickly as possible. Wrap it in plastic or paper to avoid drying up.

How to prepare rhubarb:

Rhubarb stalks can be stringy, so it’s best if you get rid of strings but it’s not mandatory. Grab one end between a paring knife and your thumb and pull straight down to remove the strings that run lengthwise through each stalk. You will not often see rhubarb stalks with leaves at the market because they are poisonous. The oxalates in the leaves are harmful whether it’s raw or cooked, so trim the leaves away before cooking the stalks.

So keep in mind that rhubarb leaves and roots are mildly poisonous and be careful to trim them well.

Best cooking methods:

Braising and stewing are the best cooking methods. Cut rhubarb into coins for cooking. You will se that the red outer edges give color to the tart insides as they break down.
When cooking is done? When stalks are very tender and easily pierced with knife. Be careful not to cook rhubarb in aluminium or other reactive cookware because of the acidity of the stalks.

Are there any rhubarb facts we’ve missed? Have you ever grown it in your garden? Let us know!

Rhubarb recipes:

An for now let’s share some delicious recipes:

Mar 19, 2013
Veronica Brandy
N.Y. Editor
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