Rhubarb is known as a pie plant because it’s the main ingredient for pies, desserts and other similar dishes. It’s actually a part of the perennial family which can grow well in warm or temperate climate.
However, rhubarb is not a popular choice in the produce section. If you have never seen it before, perhaps you will have a dozen of questions about it, like “What does rhubarb taste like?” or “Which is the best way to cook rhubarb?” Our post was written to answer all of these questions.
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What is Rhubarb?
Rhubarb (or Rheum Rhabarbarum) is a plant which belongs to the family Polygonaceae. It grows from short and thick rhizomes and is harvested in the spring. It’s technically a vegetable, but can be legally considered as a fruit due to being prepared as other fruits in the kitchen.
It has poisonous leaves which are usually cut off when cooking. Only the long, fleshy, bright red or green colored stalks are edible. Unlike other vegetables, the color of rhubarb is not an indication of sweetness or ripeness. Its stalk’s color is, therefore, different depending on each type.
Types of Rhubarb
- German Wine: It’s characterized green stems covered with pink speckles. It’s regarded as one of the sweetest rhubarbs that you can find on the market.
- Cherry Red: It’s very thick and tall. Plus, it offers a sweet and tender taste. Therefore, it is pretty suitable for those who would like to play down the sour flavor a little bit.
- Colorado Red: This celery-like plant is red both outside and inside. Because of the dominant visual attraction, it’s often used for jams and jellies.
- Holstein Bloodred: It’s a very vigorous plant. You can easily recognize it because its stalks are deep red and juicy.
- McDonald’s Canadian Red: It has a dark red color and usually used for freezing and rhubarb pies.
- Turkish: Unlike other varieties, this one is green both outside and inside. Thus, it’s an ideal fit for pairing with Colorado Red.
What Does Rhubarb Taste Like?
As the water accounts for 95% in it, rhubarb is assumed not to have any distinct taste. However, when eating raw, many people said that its natural taste is nearly the same as the sourness of green apples. On the other hand, others feel that its taste is refreshing and similar to celery but much tangier.
Therefore, rhubarb’s flavor may be described as the cross between celery and green apple, but with a tangy twist. It has a strong and clean sour taste with a healthy dose of tartness. It’s usually added to flavor juices, especially vegetable juicing dishes because it helps to balance the bitter taste of certain green vegetables.
If you don’t want to try it raw, you will feel its tartness and sweetness by boiling and baking it with sugar. It is nicely paired with other fruits, especially strawberries. You can combine these two in rhubarb strawberry pie or baked them together in other recipes.
Nutritional Value of Rhubarb
Rhubarb is considered a high nutritional vegetable because it’s packed with minerals, vitamins and many organic compounds which keep our body healthy. These beneficial nutrients include not only protein dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, lutein, beta-carotene, manganese, zeaxanthin, but also vitamin C, K and B.
In addition, rhubarb is very low in fat and cholesterol, so it poses no threat to our cardiovascular system. The high vitamin K value helps to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, increase the bone density and improve the digestion. However, before cooking, we have to remove all the leaves because they are high in oxalic acid.
How to Use Rhubarb in Cooking
By trying the rhubarb raw, you can truly know what rhubarb tastes like. You can dip it into sugar or other sweet substances like agave nectar, maple syrup or honey in order to mellow its tartness. You can also sprinkle diced rhubarb over cereal or yogurt, or add raw rhubarb to many dishes of salads.
Chunks of rhubarb are suggested roasting. But first, you should sprinkle them with sugar or drizzle them with honey. Then, you put it on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes, let them cool and toss them with other ingredients like goat cheese, fennel, arugula and toasted walnuts.
Rhubarb can be made into chutneys, salsas and sauces which can be smothered over the dishes to add a unique flavor. Rhubarb chutney which is created from the rhubarb, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, vinegar and orange juice is usually combined with salmon, roast chicken, duck, pork chops and turkey. Besides, rhubarb sauce is widely used.
Rhubarb jam or syrup can be added to smoothies. Chef Jamie Oliver suggests creating a jam by slicing rhubarbs then cooking them with water. Next, blend and cool it. After that, add prosecco or champagne for a great rhubarb bellini. For nonalcoholic drinks, you can top rhubarb syrup off with strawberries.
To make this dish, you should cook rhubarb with a cinnamon stick until the mixture becomes consistency. After that, pour it into dehydrator trays lined with parchment paper then dry it at 135o F for about 9 hours.
Until now, I believe that you have clear answers to the question “What does rhubarb taste like?” There are five main ways for you to try it, but you can also find other ways to cook it. When eating it raw, you will feel that the taste might be somewhat tart and sour.
The simplest way to enjoy it is to cook it with sugar and water to create a sauce that you can pour it over vanilla ice cream or sorbets or make jam for bread.
This video can teach you how to make rhubarb sauce in 15 minutes, check it if you want: