Trim off leaf ends and roots using a sharp knife and discard. Be sure to discard the leaves, which contain toxic levels of oxalic acid.
If the more mature stalks are wider than 1 inch, slice lengthwise in half or thirds.
Check stalks for blemished areas and trim off before using.
When preparing field-grown rhubarb the stems may be too fibrous and will need to have the strings pulled off. At one end of the stalk, cut just under the skin.
Pull the piece down the stalk to remove the strings. Continue until all of the strings are removed. When preparing hothouse-grown rhubarb the stems are tender and should not be stringy.
Wash stalks and slice them into 3/4 inch to 1 inch pieces when preparing for stewing or making sauce. Pies and other recipes may call for the pieces to be cut to a smaller size, such as 1/4 to 1/2 inch.
Refresh rhubarb stalks by standing them in a pitcher that has been filled partially with cold water. Allow them to stand for a minimum of 1 hour.