Glossary - print - Rhubarb

Rhubarb - Glossary Term

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Garden Variety or Field Rhubarb
Hot House Rhubarb
A perennial plant that has celery-like stalks that are greenish pink to dark red in color. Garden variety Rhubarb that is grown outside during the summer months matures from a green into a light pink colored stalk with streaks of green amongst lighter red shades of color. When raised during the winter months, Rhubarb is grown in a greenhouse known as a hothouses where the plant is kept inside to grow in a dark and warmer growing environment. When grown in a hothouse, the stalk of the Rhubarb is bright red to deep crimson in color topped with a small yellow colored leaf. Due to being grown in a dark hothouse, the stalk developes a sweeter flavored meat, often being referred to as strawberry Rhubarb in recognition of its color and flavor.

Rhubarb is a vegetable but is generally prepared and served in the same manner as a fruit, since it is most often cooked and sweetened with sugar. When eaten raw, Rhubarb has a tart flavor so when it is cooked there is a tendency to add more sugar then necessary in an attempt to sweeten the flavor. Rhubarb is a good vegetable to use to enhance the flavor of other fruits, such as pairing it with strawberries, raspberries, apples and pears in baked sauces or beverages. During earlier times, the Rhubarb plant was used primarliy to make pies and was therefore, referred to as the pie plant. Although it makes a delicious pie filling Rhubarb is also used to make sauce in the same manner as applesauce. Rhubarb can also be used to make jellies, jams, cakes, muffins, and other sweet desserts. The leaves and roots of the Rhubarb should always be discarded after cutting them away from the Rhubarb stalks, since the leaf and root contain toxic levels of oxalic acid.

When selecting Rhubarb, choose stalks that are young and crisp. Peel any tough skin off before using. Rhubarb can be frozen for future use by cutting the stalks into 1-inch lengths and packaged in plastic.