Wondering when you can get the best rhubarb ? When rhubarb is in season it’s fresh, tart, and oh so flavorful ! But when is rhubarb in season ? After all, you seem to notice it in stores most of the times, even it’s just a few stalks.
It turns out rhubarb season can get pretty long, especially when you take into account the hothouse versions. So let’s take a look at when you’re most likely to find rhubarb, and hot to store it so it keeps fresh.
When is rhubarb in season ?
Rhubarb is in season from mid-spring to mid-summer. This season is elongated by hothouse rhubarb, which is harvested in late winter or early spring.
Most of the open-air rhubarb crop comes from Oregon and Washington. This means it’s always fresh rhubarb, domestic-grown and not imported.
Hothouse rhubarb is harvested in spring
While open-air rhubarb is best from midspring to midsummer, hothouse rhubarb is harvested in early spring. In some cases it can be late winter, but it varies a little from year to year.
Hot house rhubarb will almost always have a deeper crimson color, and the color will be uniform along the stalk. This is mostly to do with genetics, not with the level of ripeness of rhubarb.
Read also: How To Sweeten Rhubarb Without Sugar
Can you get rhubarb all year round ?
In theory, yes, you could find rhubarb all year round. Hothouse rhubarb can be harvested at any time, but the crop needs a resting period, just like open-air rhubarb.
Even so, there is a significant dip in rhubarb harvest in the cold season. The only rhubarb you’ll find then is the hothouse rhubarb, which is a little more tender and slightly sweet.
Should you stop eating rhubarb after July ?
After July rhubarb stalks become fibrous and chewy, and lose a good portion of their flavor. They are still edible, as in they are not poisonous. But you shouldn’t eat them because they won’t add anything good to your meal.
Another reason to stop eating rhubarb after July is that the plant needs to replenish. This means it needs to grow back its leaves before the cold season hits, so it can gain resources. This way it can reliably grow back in spring.
And finally, rhubarb isn’t a hot weather plant. It doesn’t do well in a heatwave, nor in normal high summer temperatures. This means once the heat sets in, it’ll turn into a woody, fibrous plant in order to survive.
Can I freeze fresh rhubarb raw ?
Yes, you can freeze fresh raw rhubarb. In fact it’s one of the best ways to store rhubarb if you have too many stalks ! Be sure to properly wash and dry the stalks before you freeze them.
Cut off the leaf end, leave no bit of leaf visible at all. The leaves are poisonous and shouldn’t be eaten.
You can freeze the chopped rhubarb in a single layer, in a sheet pan, and then transfer them to an airtight container. But if you’re short on time or don’t mind them clumping together, you can put all of them in the same bag or container form the get-go.
Just be sure to freeze in small portions, as much as you would need for a single pie (or whatever dish you’re making).
Keep in mind that once thawed, frozen rhubarb is going to be very mushy. It will still have some strings and be somewhat fibrous, but it will definitely be softer than raw.
This is actually a good thing, since you’re likely going to need to cook it anyway into a jam or filling. A softer rhubarb is going to cook very easily and perform well in a dish. It’s also better if you’re going to use it in a smoothie, since the blender will have an easier time.
How to buy great rhubarb
If rhubarb is in season you’ll ne no trouble picking out the best stalks out there. Here’s what you should look for when buying rhubarb:
- plump, glossy stalks
- color can be red, green, pink, or any combination
- no weird discolorations or dry spots on the stalks
- a dry end is normal, it’s where the stalk was cut
Most of the time rhubarb is sold with the leaves cut off. If your rhubarb still has some leaf attached, cut off that part entirely. The leaves are poisonous, but the stalks are perfectly fine to eat.
How to store rhubarb
Once you’ve got yourself that great rhubarb, there’s a few ways to store it. The first is to store rhubarb on the counter. It can last for a couple of days, assuming your kitchen isn’t overly warm. Only do this if you’re planning on using it the next day.
In the fridge rhubarb can keep up to a week. Make sure it’s loosely wrapped in a plastic bag. If your fridge ahs a veggies crisper that’s even better. The leaves may wild a little, but the stems should keep.
And finally the freezer. If you want to freeze rhubarb, it can keep for up to 6 months if kept in an airtight container. We recommend you only freeze in small portions. This way you don’t have to subject the entire rhubarb container to temperature fluctuations.
All that being said, we really recommend you use rhubarb as fresh as possible. If you keep it for too long, it will start to wilt. You’ll notice it’s gone bad when the stalks have become softer and are starting to smell a little weird.
If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.