Oh, I do love rhubarb.
Ugly, tart, peculiar rhubarb. For most people that don’t like it, it’s a texture thing. My answer: cut it into smaller pieces, shorter piece to break up the fibrousness. There is nothing like a giant mass of mushy, stringy rhubarb to just turn you off it forever.
When my mom and I make rhubarb crunch, mine has little petite pieces and hers … well, I’m afraid of the big pieces and out the window they flew. Don’t tell.
As a hardy perennial, it just keeps popping up year after year. Perhaps, every 3 or 4 years, I’ll dig up the plant in the early spring and divide it to share with another gardener or increase my rhubarb patch. Then again maybe not. Easy to care for, it might appreciate a little additional nitrogen, but usually I forget and it does fine anyway. My kind of plant.
One thing to watch for is the flower. As you see it start to bud, carefully cut it at the base of the stalk with a sharp knife and pitch it in the compost. I honestly have no clue if it is edible. Why cut out the bloom? So that the leaves — the usable stalks grow stronger, healthier. More food.
1. Choose a larger, outer stalk and grip near the base. Tug. Do not cut. Tug. Better for the plant, but I forget why. It might be an open wound thing. Then again… Point is: tug.
I never harvest more than a quarter of the stalks at any one time, so that there are enough leaves left for proper photosynthesis to take place.
Cut off the leaf, because that is poisonous. Weird but true.
Cut off right at the base where it attached to the rest of the plant.
Short storage ( a week or two ) — wrap the clump of stalks in aluminum foil and place in the crisper in your frig.
Longer storage (9-12 months ) — chop into the size you might use for a specific recipe. For example, Rhubarb Crunch chunks are significantly larger than Rhubarb Tapioca pieces.
Spread the pieces in a single layer on a tray with wax paper on it and freeze.
Once they are frozen, measure the amount needed for a certain recipe, dump into a freezer bag, label ( ex. Rhubarb crunch pieces ) and jam it back in the freezer. Better yet, vacuum pack it and refreeze.
You can sugar pack it, but I am not a fan of wasting expensive sugar on something that I seal relatively air free and chuck into baking. Your choice.
Really long storage (oh about as long as any other dried fruit) — cut in 1/4″ slices and place in dehydrator for …hm… 8-12 hrs. It is just the same as strawberries. So if you have strawberry instructions in your little dehydrator booklet, use those. Then seal in an air tight container. Use in things like muffins, oatmeal etc.
Note: Do not thaw frozen rhubarb, just use it frozen in the recipe. Thawed it looks very sad, because the cells burst in the freezing process. Most recipes will “limp” it anyway in the cooking process.
I do adore low-maintenance food producing plants, don’t you?