Late spring is the only period that fresh rhubarb is accessible in farmer’s markets and supermarkets, and it only lasts a short while. However, freezing the stalks is a fantastic choice and the best way to preserve rhubarb if you want to consume this vegetable all year long. The wonderful thing is that in dishes like rhubarb compote, frozen rhubarb performs just as well as fresh.
Before you freeze rhubarb, there are a few measures you need to take in order to produce a quality result. One method is rapidly blanching the rhubarb stalks in boiling water before freezing them, which guarantees that they will maintain a good texture and their rosy color for use in a recipe later.
Rhubarb is a plentiful “fruit” that only appears in the early spring and resembles pinkish-green or even magenta celery stems. Its second name, “pie plant,” derives from the fact that, due to its noticeably tarter flavor, it matches well with sugar in sweets like pies, crisps, and compotes. Additionally, rhubarb pairs well with pork and poultry and adds a puckery-tart fruitiness to savory dishes. Around the world, rhubarb is grown, mostly in China and Europe. Rhubarb grows best in the northern states of the union, from Maine south through Illinois and west to Washington state.
Rhubarb is a plant from the genus Rheum. It operates more like a fruit despite being a hardy perennial veggie. Since a New York customs court judge ruled that it was fruit in 1947, the USDA has officially recognized it as such. The plant is popular and straightforward to grow in backyard gardening (even difficult to get rid of when you want to). It needs a cold winter to grow and develop its distinctive spring stalks, which range in color from red to pink to light green.
How to Freeze Rhubarb
Make cautious to remove all of the hazardous leafy green components away from the leafstalk while picking your own rhubarb from the garden. All that is edible is the leafstalk. Before slicing the rhubarb stalks, take out any rough strings that may be present (common with kinds cultivated in fields). Although the stalks’ natural stringiness softens after cooking, it is advisable to remove them before freezing or cooking.
The rhubarb bits don’t stick together when the first layer is frozen in a single layer. When, for instance, you have a quart-size container of frozen rhubarb but need to remove only a cup of it for a recipe, having loose chunks will be advantageous.
Rhubarb may be frozen and blanched in just a few easy steps.
Use cold water to wash the rhubarb leaf stalks. Slice the stalks into pieces about 1/2 to 1 inch. For an ice bath, prepare a sizable kettle of boiling water and fill a sizable dish with ice and cold water.
The rhubarb chunks should cook for 1 minute after being dropped into the pot of quickly heating water. (Instead of boiling the rhubarb, you can steam it for one minute.)
The rhubarb should be immediately drained in a strainer before being added to the bowl of ice water. This puts an end to cooking. After giving the pieces in the ice bath a gentle swirl, let them two minutes to cool.
In the colander, thoroughly drain the rhubarb pieces.
On a baking sheet, arrange the chilled, blanched rhubarb pieces in a single layer (if desired, line the baking sheet with parchment paper first). Place the pan in the freezer for about two hours, uncovered.
Fill freezer bags or other airtight containers with the frozen rhubarb. Label the containers with the date and securely close them.
Useful Hints for Frozen Rhubarb
One of the finest foods to freeze is rhubarb since you can use frozen rhubarb in place of fresh. Due to the blanching process, recipes containing frozen rhubarb will mirror the rose hue of the fresh leaf stalks in both appearance and flavor. Although it is not necessary to defrost frozen rhubarb before using it in a recipe, it is ideal to do so if you plan to bake with it because it tends to shrink a little after thawing and you want an accurate measurement.
Rhubarb may be frozen and stored for a year. After then, it is still safe to eat, but the quality will decrease. When raw or frozen, one pound of fresh rhubarb makes roughly 3 cups of chopped pieces; when cooked, it makes about 2 cups.
What are Rhubarb’s Health Advantages?
Vitamin A, found in rhubarb, may help defend your skin from free radicals that harm it and hasten aging by combating them. Numerous important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health benefits are present. Rhubarb is a rich source of vitamin K, which is essential for healthy blood coagulation and bones.
Enhance Personal Health
The vitamin K in rhubarb contributes to the preservation of robust, healthy bones. In addition to preventing osteoporosis, vitamin K is essential for the growth of new bone.
Spare Your Heart and Body.
Rhubarb is a wonderful source of fiber, which decreases cholesterol. According to studies, rhubarb can assist in reducing both your total and bad cholesterol levels. With reduced cholesterol levels, your chance of developing heart disease and having a heart attack lowers. Vitamin K is included in rhubarb and may help prevent the calcification of blood vessels. The antioxidants in the vegetable also protect the health of your heart by having anti-inflammatory qualities.
The fiber in rhubarb helps keep things moving through your digestive tract, preventing problems like constipation. It also contains sennosides, a group of compounds that have natural laxative properties. Additionally, the tannins in rhubarb are anti-diarrheal.
The body is better able to fight off free radicals thanks to the antioxidants in rhubarb, which may help avert oxidative stress and cell damage. Your chance of developing some malignancies may be reduced by antioxidants’ capacity to fight off free radicals.
Antioxidant components in rhubarb contribute to the decrease of inflammation. These characteristics may be advantageous for those who have systemic inflammatory response syndrome. According to a different study, the anti-inflammatory properties of rhubarb extract may help wounds heal more quickly.
Reference: Cholesterol-lowering effects of rhubarb stalk fiber in hypercholesterolemic men.
How Should I Eat Rhubarb?
Fresh rhubarb may be available in the produce section of your neighborhood grocery store while the vegetable is in season, which is typically from April through June.
When choosing rhubarb, look for sturdy, crisp stems. Avoid those with faults or limpness. Keep a watch out for smaller leaves, which indicate a younger plant. Prior to cooking or eating, remove the leaves.
Wait until you’re ready to use the rhubarb before trimming the stalks to prevent drying out. Fill stalks to the brim and store them in a tight plastic bag in the refrigerator. Use them within a week. Prior to using them, chop up your rhubarb and store it in the freezer.
Rhubarb can be eaten in a variety of forms, including raw, cooked into jam, and blended into drinks. Additional ways to eat the veggie include:
Making a crumble or pie by baking it
Rhubarb can be used to make ice cream, fresh juices, homebrewed kombucha, and sauces for poultry or beef.
Making rhubarb leather with a dehydrator and a purée
incorporating honey-drizzled, roasted rhubarb into a salad
How to Recognize a Bad Rhubarb?
A few signs suggest that anything is wrong with your rhubarb. Examine the rhubarb’s appearance, color, texture, and scent to see if it has gone bad.
If your rhubarb has mold or any other organic growth, it is bad rhubarb and you should discard it. If the mold is only in a small area of your rhubarb, you can cut that area off and throw it away. If the mold has taken over a sizable piece of your rhubarb, however, you must destroy the entire plant.
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t smell rhubarb if there is visible mold since the mold might cause mycotoxins to form in the rhubarb. The mycotoxins in such rhubarb will disturb your natural microbiota if you breathe its odor, weakening your immune system.
It is recommended to throw away any rhubarb that has noticeable dark brown or black stains on it.
The rhubarb should be thrown away if you find it to be unusually soft or mushy because it has become rotten.
It is better to throw away the rhubarb if you smell it and notice an off-odor or sulfur-like odor. Before cooking, rinse the rhubarb. Both firm and ruby red are ideal. Blanch the vegetable for around 40 minutes to preserve its color and flavor. Once it has been blanched, kindly take it out of the freezer and dry it. You can freeze rhubarb if it’s still firm. Before freezing it to prevent spoiling, try a little slice.
How Long is Rhubarb in Season?
If you leave it at room temperature for a week, it should be alright. Everything depends on how well-made the stalks you bought are and how warm they are kept (lower is better).
It goes without saying that they can go moldy in as little as a day or two, so I wouldn’t store them in the cabinet for more than 3 to 4 days.
While rhubarb stalks last for about 3 to 7 days when kept properly in a pantry area that is cool, dry, dark, and out of the light and heat. Avoiding keeping rhubarb in a humid environment would be beneficial because too much moisture might cause your rhubarb to lose its quality.
While rhubarb stalks last for around 2-3 weeks when kept properly in the refrigerator at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut rhubarb lasts around 2-4 days when properly kept in the fridge at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s important to remember that these figures represent the rhubarb’s anticipated shelf life, during which you can take pleasure in the highest quality.
Where Can I Find Rhubarb?
Hothouse rhubarb is offered throughout the majority of the year, but field-grown stalks are normally only accessible in the early spring, typically from April to June. The second rhubarb crop that the Pacific Northwest enjoys in June and July is a blessing. Because the growing season is short, it would be beneficial if you appreciated it as you saw it. It is frequently on hand at both grocery shops and farmer’s markets.
Usually, it is offered for sale lost by the stalks. The stalks are the size of gigantic individual celery stalks and are sold by the pound. A farmer may sell rhubarb in large quantities if they have a bumper harvest or an exceptionally active growing season. Regardless of color, the stalks should be heavy, crisp, and have firm, shiny skin. Steer clear of stalks that are rubbery, fibrous, or dry.
Rhubarb can be grown and harvested in a home garden. The first year, don’t harvest the plant; leave it alone. In the second year, you can take a small harvest; by the third year, the entire crop can be taken. The only stalks that should be taken are those that are at least one inch thick. When it’s time to harvest, cut the stalks at the soil line or take out individual stalks. The crop can be harvested all at once or in phases over the course of four to six weeks. Plants can continue to produce for eight to fifteen years, barring illness or pest damage.
If you are freezing rhubarb, you will need to prepare containers for the process. The best option is a rigid plastic freezer-safe container with a tight-fitting lid. You can also use milk cartons or other waxed cardboard containers. Once you’ve prepared your containers, you can place the rhubarb in them.
The containers that you use for freezing rhubarb must have a headspace of about 1/2 inch. You can fill them with either sugar or syrup. If you are using a sugar pack, you can mix the rhubarb with the sugar and allow it to sit for at least one hour. In either case, it is important to leave some headspace. When sealing the containers, make sure the edges are clean and free of food or moisture. For the best results, place the containers in the coldest part of the freezer.