When To Harvest Rhubarb + How To Store Rhubarb

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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.

how to store rhubarb and how to harvest rhubarb

When to harvest rhubarb?

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).

How to harvest rhubarb.

If you’re wondering how to harvest rhubarb then you’ll probably be pleased to hear that it’s very simple.

  • Select a stalk that is roughly 23-30cm (9in-1ft).
  • Hold the stalk at the base and pull gently outwards don’t cut it as this can cause the plant to rot.)
  • Don’t take more than half the stalks and make sure you discard the leaves.

What do you do with fresh picked rhubarb?

Do you need to peel rhubarb?

Only the stalks of rhubarb plants are edible so you must discard the leaves.

  • Wash stalks.
  • Snap or cut off the end.
  • Later rhubarb is likely to be stringy so you may like to peel the edges slightly to remove the tougher parts.
  • You can cut into 1.5cm (1/2″) cubes for pies or smaller again for adding to cakes.
how to store rhubarb and how to harvest rhubarb

Your rhubarb is now ready to use in a variety of tasty rhubarb recipes or stored away for later in the year.

How to store rhubarb?

By far the easiest way to store rhubarb is to freeze it.

Can I freeze rhubarb without cooking it?

Should you wash rhubarb before freezing?

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!

How to blanch rhubarb…

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.

  • Prepare as above.
  • Place in a pan of boiling water for 1 minute.
  • Strain, cool and freeze as above.
  • Done!

Can you cook with rhubarb from frozen?

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.

How long can you keep fresh rhubarb in the fridge?

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!

how to store rhubarb and how to harvest rhubarb

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