Known as the pink, tart, and tangy springtime vegetable, rhubarb stalks are used to make a compote, cake, pie, or rhubarb sauce.
Yes, although it is technically a vegetable, rhubarb is used largely in desserts but can also be incorporated deliciously into savory dishes and salads.
Just because it has a fairly short harvesting season doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy rhubarb year-round.
Rhubarb freezes well and that means you can make full use of the harvesting season, purchase in bulk, and freeze away to enjoy this unique vegetable regardless of the time of year.
Make sure you follow the below guidelines carefully when freezing rhubarb as there are some important factors to consider when handling this vegetable. Here is your full guide to freezing rhubarb.
Types of Rhubarb
Rhubarb is generally known for its long red stalks, but it also comes in green and speckled pink varieties. Firm, crisp stalks grow between 8 and 15 inches long with green leaves.
It is important to note that only the stalks are edible and rhubarb leaves are poisonous and should therefore be discarded.
Among the many different types of rhubarb, the main difference is in the thickness or the stalk and vibrancy of the stem color. Red stalks are, however, not necessarily sweeter than lighter stalks as the color and sweetness of these vegetables have little bearing on one another.
Due to its tart flavor, rhubarb is always cooked down with sugar and although it can accompany savory dishes pickled or as a sauce, it is typically used for desserts, jam, in pies, cakes, and turned into a syrup.
Can Rhubarb Be Frozen?
Yes, rhubarb can be frozen to prolong its shelf life. Rhubarb can be frozen raw or cooked and preserved for use long after harvesting season has ended. It is important to remove the poisonous leaves of rhubarb and only use and freeze the stems.
Always choose fresh, firm rhubarb stalks for freezing and make sure they are well-protected from contact with air and moisture in the freezer to prevent freezer burn and quality deterioration.
How To Freeze Rhubarb
Step 1: Trim
Trim the bottom split or damaged ends of the rhubarb and remove all the poisonous leaves. Throw the leaves away and don’t consider feeding them to your pets either.
Step 2: Wash
Wash the rhubarb stalks making sure to remove all the dirt. Dry the stalks and cut them into 1-inch size pieces.
Step 3: Optional – Blanch
Although blanching rhubarb is not necessary if you are planning to use it within 3 months of freezing, it is recommended for longer storage periods and will preserve the vibrant color of the rhubarb much more effectively.
To blanch the rhubarb, throw the 1-inch pieces into a pot of already boiling water. Let it boil for one minute only and immediately drain it and submerge the rhubarb pieces into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. The rhubarb should still be firm.
Once cooled, drain the rhubarb and dry it to remove any excess moisture. Excess moisture will result in the formation of large ice crystals on freezing and ruin the quality of the vegetables.
Step 4: Flash Freeze
Spread the rhubarb pieces out in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the pieces are just frozen.
The flash freeze process prevents the rhubarb from sticking together and freezing in one large clump, allowing you to remove only as much as you need at a time and keep the rest frozen.
Step 5: Pack
Once frozen, remove the tray from the freezer and pack the rhubarb into resealable freezer bags or an airtight container. Label the container with the date and contents and place it back in the freezer.
How To Thaw Frozen Rhubarb
Rhubarb does not have to be thawed before cooking. Remove it from the freezer and add it straight to the pot or batter for cooking.
If you find that the rhubarb has formed some ice crystals on freezing which may result in a more watery product once heated, first cook the rhubarb down with sugar and add some cornstarch to thicken it slightly before using it in a pie or as a filling to ensure that you do not ruin the consistency of the dish.
Frozen rhubarb can be used the same way that you would use the fresh product to make jams, compote, cobblers, pies, muffins, and syrup.
Fresh rhubarb does not need to be peeled, however, if you find your rhubarb is rather stringy or woody, you may want to peel it before cooking for a better, smoother end product.
This tart vegetable generally needs a lot of sugar added to it when cooking and is great when combined with apples or strawberries.
No need to wait for next spring to come around to enjoy rhubarb again. Get freezing and you’ll have enough to last you all the way through autumn and winter.
Up next: how to freeze celery
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