In this post we’ll cover when to harvest rhubarb from your garden and how to store rhubarb so that you can enjoy it all year round in these amazing rhubarb recipes.
Rhubarb is a relatively easy plant to grow and if you enjoy its tart taste then it is well worth finding a space in your garden for some. It is completely hardy and grows in any garden soil.
Interestingly, rhubarb is botanically a vegetable but is more often treated like a fruit in cooking.
You should not harvest rhubarb in its first season after planting and in its second season you should only take a little to avoid weakening the crowns.
Once your plant is established you’ll get two crops of rhubarb each year.
Early in the year (around January) you’ll have you’re first crop of more subtly flavoured, tender ‘forced’ rhubard. You can force your rhubarb by using a special terracotta forcer.
In the Spring your second ‘maincrop rhubarb’ can be harvested. It will look darker red with shades of green.
Some people are concerned that Summer rhubarb shouldn’t be eaten due to toxin buildup however the Royal Horticultural Society advises harvesting through to August (or until new growth stops).
Concern is sometimes expressed over the concentrations of oxalic acid building up as the season progresses. However, this build-up is mostly in the leaves which are not eaten and the amount in the stalks is not sufficient to have a toxic effect.RHS
Rhubarb can be used to make several delicious dishes and can be stored easily (see details below).
If you’re wondering how to harvest rhubarb then you’ll probably be pleased to hear that it’s very simple.
Only the stalks of rhubarb plants are edible so you must discard the leaves.
Your rhubarb is now ready to use in a variety of tasty rhubarb recipes or stored away for later in the year.
By far the easiest way to store rhubarb is to freeze it.
Yes, you can you freeze rhubarb raw, especially if you’re not planning on freezing it for more than a few months.
And yes you should wash it.
To freeze rhubarb raw, simply prepare as detailed above and place in a freezer bag.
Either freeze in portion sized bags (to use all at once) or place your chopped rhubarb on a baking tray in the freezer for a few hours before tipping them all into a freezer bag.
This will stop them sticking together and will mean that you can take as much rhubarb as you need.
Try freezing rhubarb with some garden strawberries too as they taste great cooked together in pies!
If you prefer you can easily blanch your rhubarb before freezing it.
This is a good idea if you’re planning on freezing your rhubarb for longer than 3 months. It will also help to retain the beautiful colour and flavour.
Personally, I thaw my rhubarb before cooking with it, especially in cakes.
The freezing process actually breaks down the cell walls which releases a lot of liquid which may interfere with recipes.
If you thaw it out you can drain the juice (is great mixed with lemonade!) before adding the rhubarb to whatever I’m making.
If you only want to store your rhubarb for a short while then it will store in the fridge unwashed for 5-7 days.
Wash it before use.
Make sure you take a look at these tasty rhubarb recipes!
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