Ready for some incredible rhubarb recipes? No idea what it is or how to cook with rhubarb? Here’s why to get to know this terrific plant, which can be used in all sorts of delicious rhubarb recipes all season long.
It’s rhubarb time! Not too familiar with this veggie that’s used like a fruit? Here’s why I grow FIVE rhubarb plants in our tiny urban lot and why you may want to get to know this cool vegetable.
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Rhubarb was not really on my radar until I attended a workshop on dehydrating, where Mary T. Bell, author of several books on the subject, passed around samples of a fruit leather she called “rhubarb lace,” a fruit leather made from rhubarb.
It was A-M-AAA-ZING. Before that I had no idea you could even make your own fruit leather, nevermind one from a peculiar seasonal vegetable.
Rhubarb leather is the reason I grow rhubarb (use #1, without a doubt). It’s absolutely delicious and takes the place of candy as a special sweet treat for my kiddos and me. And it’s technically a vegetable! I’ve simplified Bell’s recipe a little over the years and reduced the amount of added sugar.
(Get the recipe for homemade fruit leather made from rhubarb here.)Since I now have such an abundance of rhubarb, I’ve tried it in numerous other rhubarb recipes as well.
1 cup of fresh rhubarb (about 2 medium stalks) has only 25 calories and is a good source of potassium, which many of us are deficient in. It also has an array of vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols to support your health.
Just go easy on the sugar, k?
Because they’re ripe around the same time, rhubarb and strawberries are often paired, so you can also make strawberry-rhubarb sauces, breads, or crisps. I prefer to devour my strawberries plain, so they don’t make it into our baked goods, and the rhubarb’s great on its own.
Note that if you want to enjoy rhubarb all summer long, you need to pick your plants somewhat reguarly or the stalks will be tough. If you’re making homemade fruit leather from rhubarb, cooking and blending the sauce will make tougher stalks usable, but the leather will have more stringiness than when made from more tender stalks. I’d test out rhubarb late in the season if the plant hasn’t been picked before serving rhubarb crisp to guests!
Now onto the other rhubarb recipes!
Rhubarb is a great replacement for or addition to berries in healthy quick-breads or muffins (uses #2 and 3, recipes are pretty much interchangeable), and makes delicious rhubarb crisps perfect for early summer potlucks (use#4, see rhubarb crisp recipe below).
If you have a sour tooth, rhubarb is very tasty diced fresh with just a light sprinkling of sugar (use #5).
The sauce used in the leather recipe can also be eaten like apple sauce or as an ice cream topping (uses #6 and 7).
Some folks even make homemade barbecue sauces (#8) and drinks (#9), both alcolohic and otherwise, with rhubarb. Check out this amazing Honey Rhubarb Water Kefir Soda from Raising Generation Nourished!
Use #10: Low-maintenance, edible accent plant
You can buy rhubarb at farmers’ markets and grocery stores, but it’s so easy to grow, I can’t imagine paying for it. It’s a readily divided perennial, so you might find a friend with one they’ll share with you so you don’t even need to buy the plant. Read more on how to get plants free in this post.
I started with a just a couple little divisions from another gardener, and now I have five (soon to be seven) giant bushy plants filled with big stalks ready for all our favorite rhubarb recipes, and for sharing with other gardeners!
(If you don’t want to grow it yourself, one of your neighbors likely has enough rhubarb to spare for a crisp. Not everyone goes as nuts over rhubarb as I do.)
Here is a great guide to growing and harvesting rhubarb from An Oregon Cottage. I’ve been told if you keep picking it all summer, it won’t get tough. Test out what you’ve got if you’re over a month into summer weather and your plant hasn’t been picked consistently.
Note that if you’re dealing with a shadier garden, rhubarb is one of the 40+ vegetables that grow in shade!
Want to try some luscious rhubarb treats? Here are just a few ideas and rhubarb recipes to get you started.
Easy Rhubarb Crisp Recipe
This rhubarb crisp is a very easy dessert that travels well to all the potlucks we tend to have in early summer.
6 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (12-15 medium stalks)
scant 1/4 cup white sugar or sweetener of choice
1 tablespoon orange or lemon juice (optional)
3/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
4 tbl butter
1/2 cup flour (I like to use ivory wheat, a whole-grain flour that’s not as dense as regular whole wheat; if you’re gluten free you can try other flours as well)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup rolled oats (I use thick rolled oats)
1/2 cup walnuts (can be omitted for nut allergies)
- Toss rhubarb with white sugar and juice if using and spread in a greased 9-inch square baking dish. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Put butter, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse 20-30 seconds, till it forms little balls. Add oats and nuts if using and pulse a few times to combine.
- Crumble the topping over rhubarb and bake until golden, about 45 minutes.
Other great rhubarb recipes
Need more ideas? Here are a gazillion from some pinners who also love rhubarb!
I ran a search including the word “healthy” but I don’t think everything there qualifies. Try substituting whole grain flours where you can, use butter or coconut oil instead of margarine or canola, and be as sparing as you can with the sugar. You can also try subbing in some apple sauce so you can cut down on sugar.
What are your favorite uses for rhubarb?
Pin to save these rhubarb recipes for next time you have rhubarb on hand!
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Photo credits: Jeremy Keith, stu_spivack, Whitney, Katherine, Meal Makeover Moms via Flickr