Rhubarb is a fabulous spring crop. The sour sweetness of rhubarb is absolutely nice in cakes, breads, pies, cobblers and jams, as well as sweet and savory compotes, chutneys, and sauces. Savory rhubarb chutney, cooked with onions and hot pepper is an exciting accompaniment to grilled pork, chicken, or shrimp. Sweeter versions employing brown sugar and lemon peel are superb served with pancakes, French toast, waffles or pound cake. Ladled atop frozen yogurt or ice cream, sweet rhubarb sauce is perfect for a spring sundae when the sun burns bright. This same sauce can be strained to yield a perfectly pink syrup. Combine with cold sparkling water or seltzer for a refreshing mocktail, or add to prosecco for a beautiful brunch beverage.
Rich in fiber, protein, vitamin C, potassium and calcium, rhubarb provides many valuable nutrients. A natural laxative, rhubarb may help east constipation. In fact, it is written that rhubarb was utilized in ancient Chinese medicine for treating stomach ailments. The vitamin K found in rhubarb may help strengthen bones, as well as possibly inhibiting inflammation in the brain. Rhubarb also supplies the body with vitamin A, which may help diminish signs of aging, particularly skin damage.
When choosing rhubarb at the supermarket or farm markets, look for glossy, firm stalks. Trim the leaves off when you bring your rhubarb home, as they are toxic. Store the stalks wrapped in a paper towel in your vegetable drawer. Wash before using. Rhubarb freezes beautifully, place chopped stalks on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and place in the freezer. When the chunks are frozen, store them in freezer bags and use within one year.
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