Rhubarb is one of the first edibles available to us gardeners in cold climates. Admittedly, it isn’t as tasty as early spring berries but it does have a place in our gardens, kitchens, and pantries. Here are some amazing resources for growing & using rhubarb on your homestead.
Growing & Harvesting Rhubarb
Rhubarb is a perennial, once and it gets established, you’ll likely be leaving extra on your neighbor’s porches. Plant rhubarb crowns (essentially roots) rather than seeds as early as the spring soil can be worked. Ask someone local for a bit of root from their plant. Rhubarb likes compost and well-drained soil, but honestly, it seems to grow most everywhere in the north without too much fuss. Don’t harvest any in the first year but rather just let it grow and get established. Harvest liberally in the following years.
Don’t harvest any in the first year but rather just let it grow and get established. Harvest liberally in the following years. Harvest by cutting the stalks close to the ground with a sharp knife. Remove the leaves from the stalks.
Rhubarb leaves are poisonous and should not be eaten, however; they do have their place as an organic pesticide. I most often, just compost mine, but the pesticide is a fantastic idea should it ever be needed.
Don’t harvest any in the first year but rather just let it grow and get established. Harvest liberally in the following years.
Remember to keep track of your planting schedule and harvest with The Gardening Notebook.
Eating & Drinking Rhubarb Fresh
Rhubarb needs some sweetening to be palatable to most of us. It is extremely tart on its own. Use that tartness as an advantage by reducing the sugar a bit and letting the tart flavor shine through.
- Rhubarb Spritzer
- Roasted Rhubarb Salad
- Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake
- Gluten-Free Rhubarb Crumble
- Blueberry Apple Rhubarb Pie
- Rhubarb Ice Cream
- Fermented Rhubarb and Honey Soda
- Strawberry Rhubarb Soda
- Rhubarb Sauce
Rhubarb is a prolific producer which can be a blessing and a curse. It preserves incredibly well and easily too in most cases. Make a bunch while it’s season and save it for winter eating when fresh fruit is expensive and be sure to make extras for gift giving.
- Rhubarb Mint Jam
- Strawberry Rhubarb Balsamic Jam
- Rhubarb Butter
- Stewed Rhubarb
- Honey Sweetened Rhubarb Compote with Ginger
- How to Freeze Rhubarb
It might not be as tasty or beautiful as growing heirloom tomatoes, but growing and using rhubarb is a rewarding and worthwhile pursuit especially for the northern gardener.
What’s your favorite way to use or preserve rhubarb?
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