There is nothing that says spring and summer like a wonderful rhubarb dessert and rhubarb season is in full swing in many parts of the country. There is something uniquely appealing about this very tart ingredient which makes the perfect counter point to the sweetness of fresh strawberries or a simple syrup.
Rhubarb is traditionally seen in pies of all kinds but there are many other uses for rhubarb that can expand your understanding and love for this unlikely ingredient.
What You Need to Know about Rhubarb
Rhubarb is an old ingredient that fell out of fashioned for some time, but is starting to make a resurgence in the culinary world. Actually a vegetable rather than a fruit, rhubarb has a very tart flavor that some actually describe as bitter. Combined properly with sweet ingredients it makes a perfect balance of tart and sweet flavors. The leaves of the rhubarb plant are actually poisonous, it is the stalks instead that are cut up and either stewed or made into pies, syrups, sauces and more.
Rhubarb becomes available in April, and continues to grow through September depending on the climate. This means you can enjoy fresh rhubarb for most of the year, but like so many early season crops it is especially nice in early spring when many crops are just being planted.
How to Use Rhubarb
Rhubarb is best known as a pie ingredient, but stewed rhubarb is also popular especially in areas where this plant grows in abundance. Rhubarb requires sweetening so it is most often seen in desserts, but it can also be put in meat sauces as well and is a popular addition to beverages. Other ideas include jam, jelly, puddings, and bread. Rhubarb can also be canned or frozen for later use.
One of the simplest ways to enjoy rhubarb is to stew it with a bit of water and sugar. Simply add 5 or 6 cups of rhubarb to a pan with a cup of water and bring to a boil. Add 2 cups of sugar and a half teaspoon of cinnamon and simmer on low heat until the rhubarb is soft, and the sauce has reached the desired thickness. You can enjoy it over ice cream or eat it plain.