how to keep rhubarb from the garden all year

lia holding bunch of picked rhubarb stalks

rhubarb is one of my favourite summer flavours and it's one of the few things that grows easily and abundantly in the short summers of the canadian prairies. it is easy to grow, easy to harvest and best of all it can be kept all year long so you can have that burst of sweet and tart summer flavour even in the middle of winter.

rhubarb stalks and leaves

rhubarb grows in a sort of leafy clump. the stalks are the part that can be eaten. the leaves are poisonous so they need to be discarded. the first year after planting you shouldn't harvest at all to make sure your plant establishes itself but after that you can take two thirds of the stalks every year in the spring and early summer. the stalks are ready to harvest when they are 7-15" long. colour doesn't indicate ripeness. the stalks are usually a mix of green, pink and red. in the second half of the summer stop harvesting and let your rhubarb plant build it's strength for the winter.

cut rhubarb stalks on wooden cutting board

here's how to harvest and store your rhubarb:

1. harvest

the stalks are super easy to harvest. just cut or break them off the plant near the base. take the larger stalks first and always make sure to leave at least one third of the plant in tact to regrow for next year

2. prep

cut off the leafy part and discard the leaves (the leaves are poisonous to eat). wash the stalks in cold water and then dry

3. cook or store

you can cook with the stalks now but if you have more than you need or you would rather save a taste of summer for later, rhubarb is really easy to freeze. just cut the stalks into small pieces (1/2" to 1"), transfer them to freezer bags, lay them flat(-ish) in the freezer and then pull them out when ever you're ready to cook!

tip: measure out cup quantities and mark the bags so you can pull out however much you need for your recipe. i like to do a few bags that are two cups, a few at four cups and one or two that are six cups

suggested recipes for your rhubarb:

- rhubarb crisp

- rhubarb turnovers

- rhubarb compote

(i will post more recipes and link them soon!)

chopped rhubarb in labelled ziplock bag on counter


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