Ready, Set, Rhubarb!

It’s been awhile, I know. I wrote a post or two that didn’t make it up due to computer issues. They were about eating locally in mid-winter, which is a difficult thing. Eating in early spring is also a difficult thing, so the concept is still applicable, but what’s gone is gone, so I’m moving on… to RHUBARB!

A few weeks ago, in the beginning of a warm spell, our good friends Anna and Garrett dropped off a bucket of rhubarb plants. Even though around here, it seems like everyone knows how to plant rhubarb (it is really one of the easiest plants to grow), I’ll outline the facts for those of you who might not have experience with it:

Rhubarb should never be purchased. It is a perennial plant which ought to be split and shared with friends every few years, or it will overrun whatever section of your yard you put it in. So you dig a great big hole and fill the hole with some dirt and compost and put the rhubarb in and let it grow for a full year before you harvest a single stalk of it. The second year, you can harvest for two months. The third year, it should be established enough that you can go ahead and harvest ‘as much as you need,’ which, by this time will probably be far more than you could possibly NEED, and so by the fifth year, you probably ought to split it in half and let someone else have some of the … joy.

The thing is: I love rhubarb. As a kid, I used to take rhubarb stalks from the plant in our yard and suck the sour juices out of the stalks. If you don’t love rhubarb, or have never tried it before, I really don’t advise doing that.

It seems to be the case that not everyone loves rhubarb. Rather, it is one of those nuisance plants that no one is willing to really throw away, but is really glad to give ‘a friend’ if they want some. It is rarely used in full, the leaves are toxic when eaten… it makes excellent jam and pie filling and works in muffins, sometimes. But it is terribly sour and tends to taste grassy. So a little rhubarb plant goes a long way.

Anyway, A & G dropped off a bucket of rhubarb plants which reminded me to check up on the rhubarb plants we got last year from my in-laws, which reminded me: I still had a 5 lb bag of rhubarb from my in-law’s garden in my freezer. So, with the bucket of brilliant hot-pink sprouts out on the back patio, I took the frozen bag of now grey-pink-greenish chunks out and let them thaw.

I’ve been eating a lot of brownish-colored rhubarb jam lately, and with one more batch of rhubarb muffins, I think I’ll be done using up last year’s rhubarb. And then, we’ll really be ready.



… So if you need any rhubarb, you know who to call…


One thought on “Ready, Set, Rhubarb!

  1. Kellyann says:

    Alas, I am not a rhubarb person. Except for strawberry-rhubarb pie and strawberry-rhubarb jam. My aunt-in-law puts rhubarb in EVERYTHING. She helpfully tells me you can harvest it early and it’ll grow back, so you can harvest it several times a season. And when we can get 20 lbs or so in one harvest . . . well, you get the picture.

    I really wish I could like it better.

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