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About: Rhubarb

May 16, 2010

My first encounter with rhubarb came just one year ago. I’d never grown up seeing it on the family table, so have always been a bit timid of the its red celery appearance. The debate about whether rhubarb is a fruit or a vegetable didn’t help either. I would wonder, is it savory or is it sweet? Neither. It’s very tart.

I recently decided to challenge myself to create several recipes using the ambiguous produce as the main ingredient.  And no sharing the fame as main ingredient with another fruit or vegetable. It’s near the end of the official season for rhubarb, but nonetheless, I want to celebrate.  So far the only time I ever had rhubarb was when I made it for myself last year.  I loved the sweet bread recipe, but have been curious to try some new treats before the season ends.  If all goes well, I just may have to freeze some for a rain day this fall.

A little bit about the debated fruit/vegetable: Rhubarb has been cultivated for thousands of years and is believed to have originated in Asia.  In China the stalks were used medicinally, most likely as a laxative, since the stalks are high in fiber (like celery).  Rhubarb also contains a bit of vitamin C and calcium, but the leaves are toxic, so always dispose of them.  There are several varieties- red and green, but I’ve been told that “the redder the better.”  At least the idea is that more crimson the color, the sweeter the taste.  I’m not sure how much I believe that though, because I have a tough time eating either one raw.  My nine year old brother loves the tart flavor though and chews on the fibers like candy. Ak.

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