Funny how we keep meeting up like this. It’s that time to take a look into our Produce of the Month and this rhubarb-ie is ready to explore! Now I know what you’re thinking: What’s the big deal with a vibrant pink stick of celery? Well, let’s see what rhubarb is all about!
Some Fun Facts
It’s rhubarb’s world and we’re just eating in it. Being the center of attention with its vibrant colors to its sour raw taste, here are some fun facts that can really pack a punch:
- While most think of rhubarb as a fruit, it is actually considered a vegetable as a member of the buckwheat family. Its confusion is due to the USDA classifying it as a fruit because of lower tariffs on fruits than vegetables in 1947!
- Rhubarb originated in China and is used for its medicinal purposes in antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer medicines – it’s not just a pretty face!
- Rhubarb is commonly used in desserts like pies, crumbles, and tarts, but it can also be used to make sauces, jams, and even savory dishes like chutneys or marinades.
- In case rhubarb didn’t get enough of the spotlight, the United States has a “National Rhubarb Day” on January 22nd of every year. Mark your calendars and appreciate the tangy goodness and endless culinary possibilities!
- Rhubarb comes in a variety of colors from traditional crimson to green, pink, or speckled!
When & How to Pick Your Rhubarb
Rhubarb is one of the first spring seasonal vegetables to show its face, known as the “harbinger of spring.” When spring is in the air, it’s easy to get excited, so let’s make sure we pick our produce the right way:
- Rhubarb is grown enough to be picked when it is about 12 inches to 24 inches (30cm to 60cm) long and is usually ready from April to June.
- To pick rhubarb, firmly grasp the stalk, pull, and twist! Be sure not to use a knife to cut the stalks from the plant as it can invite diseases and pests that are not welcome.
- Immediately after harvesting the stalk, trim the leaves from the stalks and toss them because the leaves are toxic and will speed up the wilting process.
- Be sure to leaf some stalk when picking, that way you can enjoy it again next year!
A Flavor For Every Mood
Please keep your hands and feet inside the ride because you’re about to ride the rhubarb rollercoaster of flavor! Here are some flavor profiles that can take your dishes up a notch:
- The Sour Bombshell: Picture yourself taking a bite of rhubarb for the first time. It's like the taste buds in your mouth gather for an emergency meeting, their eyes widening in surprise. Rhubarb hits you like a sour bombshell, making your face pucker up faster than a lemonade stand during a heatwave. It's like someone decided to squeeze a lemon and a green apple into a vegetable, just for kicks.
- The Tart Tango: But wait, there's more! Rhubarb doesn't stop at sourness; it's got some serious tartness going on too. It's like doing the tango with a flavor. One moment it's tangy, the next it's tangier, and before you know it, your taste buds are doing a full-on dance routine to keep up with this zesty partner. Rhubarb loves to keep you on your toes, and your taste buds will have no choice but to follow suit!
- The Sweet Surprises: Just when you think you've got rhubarb all figured out, it throws a curveball at you. Amongst its sour and tart tendencies, rhubarb has pockets of surprising sweetness. It's like a mischievous vegetable that hides tiny bursts of sugary goodness to keep you guessing. These unexpected moments of sweetness are like a ray of sunshine breaking through storm clouds, making you appreciate rhubarb's complex nature.
- The Vegetable Wonder: Let's not forget that rhubarb is, indeed, a vegetable. So, amidst all the sour, tart, and sweet acrobatics, there's a distinct vegetable essence that shines through. It's like a reminder that you're still eating something green and leafy, despite its uncanny ability to mimic other flavors. It's the vegetable version of a stand-up comedian, always ready to surprise you with unexpected punchlines.
What To Make Of All These Flavors - Literally!
With such a diverse flavor, everyone wants a piece of rhubarb. These are some ideas for our stalk friend to make an appearance that will make your mouth water just reading it!
Pies: Rhubarb pie is a classic and beloved dessert. The tartness of rhubarb is often paired with sweet fruits like strawberries, creating a delightful balance of flavors.
Crisps and Crumbles: Rhubarb is a fantastic ingredient for making crisps and crumbles. The tangy rhubarb is sweetened and topped with a buttery, crumbly mixture of flour, sugar, and butter, then baked until golden and bubbling.
Jams and Preserves: Rhubarb can be transformed into delicious jams and preserves. When combined with sugar and cooked down, it creates a tangy and sweet spread that can be enjoyed on toast, scones, or used as a filling for pastries.
Sauces and Compotes: Rhubarb can be simmered with sugar and a bit of water to create a tangy sauce or compote. This versatile condiment can be served warm or chilled and is often used as a topping for pancakes, waffles, ice cream, or yogurt.
Breads and Muffins: Rhubarb can add a unique tang and moistness to bread and muffin recipes. Chopped rhubarb can be incorporated into the batter, creating a delightful flavor twist.
Beverages: You heard it right! Rhubarb can be used to make refreshing beverages such as rhubarb lemonade, infused water, or even cocktails. Rhubarb syrup can be created by simmering rhubarb with sugar and water and then used as a flavoring agent in various drinks.
Caboodle's Here to Shine the Spotlight on Your Dish
For those that want to experiment with rhubarb’s vast flavors in the Pittsburgh area, it's time to add some tang grocery shopping experience! Download the Caboodle app today and let us be your go-to rhubarb confidant. We are here from picking to plating and everything in between!
We're currently serving Allegheny County, with plans to expand our grocery goodness to other areas soon. Be sure to join our mailing list to stay in the loop and find out when Caboodle rolls into your neighborhood. So, what are you waiting for? Give Caboodle a whirl, and let the leftover magic begin.