The Ultimate Rhubarb Guide
(Growing Rhubarb – Harvesting Rhubarb – Rhubarb Recipes)
The quick Ultimate Rhubarb Guide will teach you all you need to know about growing, harvesting, and using Rhubarb, a lovely perennial that’s easy to grow and fantastically hardy!
My wonderful Mother-in-Law grew up growing rhubarb on her families dairy farm in the eastern townships of Montreal in Quebec, Canada. She has graciously shared with me all of her wisdom and experience to grow the best most delicious rhubarb!
Learn all about how to use RHUBARB – 3′ video
What is RHUBARB?
Believe it or not, Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a spring vegetable despite its most common uses in fruit deserts (like pies & jams) & sweet drinks! It has large green leaves (not-edible) and a vibrant pink / red stalk (edible) that is above ground.
Grown in zones 3 to 8, rhubarb is a hardy perennial that can be harvested from spring until early summer (depending on your climate – I can harvest mine until early August). In late summer rhubarb can become slightly woody and therefore not as tasty.
How to GROW Rhubarb guide
Rhubarb grows best in a sunny spot with moist soil that can drain well. It doesn’t like to get waterlogged. Usually rhubarb is grown from planting a dormant crown in the fall or as early as possible in the spring, although it can also be planted from a seed.
If you get late frost, ensure to cover your young stems as they can be damaged, but will recover.
Is Rhubarb easy to grow?
Rhubarb is incredibly easy to grow, especially in cooler climates. It is not demanding & wonderfully hardy. Rhubarb does best if it lives over a winter as the cold helps produce the best crowns and therefore crops. Our families rhubarb began by transplanting a crown of my husbands Grandmother’s rhubarb and has been alive for over 50 years!
Caring for Rhubarb Guide
Rhubarb is a very undemanding crop requiring little watering (once weekly) and very little maintenance. Check out the video above to see my mother-in-laws trick for harvesting the rhubarb.
- Plant in early spring & water weekly if needed (if it rains you may not need to water at all).
- Don’t harvest for the 1st 2 years to allow it to gain nice strong root system.
- Fertilize with a good organic fertilizer in the early spring (just throw it on top).
- To harvest in late spring & early summer – pull out at base. Grab with 2 gloved hands & pull. You’ll see the end of the stalk has a curled tip (see below photo).
- Cut off base & leaves (use as compost-keep away from cats & dogs as its leaves are poisonous to them). Wash & use.
- Cut back rhubarb in late fall or early winter once you notice that the stalks and leaves have died back from frost.
- Split rhubarb crowns (see above video) every couple of years to promote healthy growth (see video). Share the love and give some rhubarb crowns to all of those friends & family who love your rhubarb dishes.
Does Rhubarb grow back every year?
YES! Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable meaning it comes back annually. It will spread and fill in open spaces. The plant will tolerate a little crowding, but its large green leaves & stalks will grow larger & taller given plenty of space & a good organic fertilizer in the spring of each year.
How does Rhubarb taste?
Rhubarb has quite a sour taste which is often why large amounts of sugar are called for in recipes. If you like sour or tart flavours you can try decreasing the sugar significantly in any recipe and increase as needed.
Rhubarb tastes fantastic in pies, crisps, jams & jellies. We especially love the combination of strawberries, lemon & rhubarb. So if you are planting rhubarb, plant some strawberries too!
Can I FREEZE my rhubarb?
ABSOLUTELY! I find the best way to freeze my rhubarb is to cut it into 1″ chunks, lay it out on a parchment lined cookie tray and place in the freezer for 30 mins to 1 hour. Once they are frozen, I then place the rhubarb in either a glass container, jar or plastic bag, label it with the date & name, then place back into the freezer. It stays good like this for a very long time, I’ve used it after 6 months and it has tasted super fresh!
We love to bake & cook with Rhubarb and the possibilities are endless. It creates a refreshing drink, a lovely tart flavour to crisps, pies, jams & jellies. Check out my favourites below:
- Non-Alcoholic Rhubarb Cordial Drink
- Gluten-Free Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp (my recipe coming soon)
- Strawberry Rhubarb Jam (my recipe coming soon)
I hope you all LOVE this Ultimate Rhubarb Guide and have gained some rhubarb growing, harvesting & recipe skills from my Mother-in-laws experience. If you do, please be sure to rate it and leave a comment below. Please subscribe to keep up to date with my latest recipes.
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I hope you’ll give planting and growing rhubarb a try or if you’ve already been growing it, you’ve gained something from my Mother-in-laws expertise! If you found this helpful, please add a rating at the bottom of the post as it helps Google recognize the recipe & my website which will help show it to more people. I’d love to see our community grow! ♡
Now let’s get harvesting!