Rhubarb: All About the Summer Staple and What to Make with It

The mighty rhubarb. Sour, tangy, and delicious. Until one appeared in a meal delivery recipe a year ago, I’d never tried rhubarb before. I didn’t know what I was missing! Rhubarb looks like a celery stalk but packs a tangy taste. Only the stalk part is edible. It’s a vegetable yet is often used in fruit desserts. It’s extremely sour and tart, but when combined with sugar, it has an irresistible taste. The months of April through June are prime season for rhubarb, and a perfect chance to use it in it some great recipes.

Buying, Storing, and Using Rhubarb

When shopping for rhubarb, don’t go for the fat green stalks, caution chefs. You should instead choosing the thinner stalks as they’ll be more sweet. Most rhubarb sold in a store or farmer’s market will have the leaves removed. If you do find leaves, remove them promptly, because they’re toxic.

Looking for a good rhubarb is like looking for any other vegetable or fruit. You want to select firm stalks that are unblemished and without marks. Once you have your rhubarb home, store it in the refrigerator unwashed for one week. According to The Practical Cookbook: A Book of Economical Recipes (1917), rhubarb shouldn’t be peeled when it’s young and tender.

Why Eat Rhubarb?

Rhubarb is great for your health. Not only is it low in calories at just 21 calories per 100 grams, but it’s also low in fat. It’s also lower in fiber and rice in antioxidants. Just a cup of rhubarb boasts 10% of your daily calcium average. Vitamin K is also plentiful in rhubarb, and a cup has 35.7 mcg.

This summer staple is beloved by cooks and for good reason. Rhubarb is popular in desserts but it’s a versatile ingredient so don’t think it’s just for tarts or cakes. You can use it in a rice pilaf, place it in a salad, or even cook it into a delicious sauce for poultry. Let’s share some rhubarb dishes that will make your taste buds explode with flavor.

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Rhubarb Sauce

This was my original taste of rhubarb, a sauce. Don’t blame me if you become obsessed.


  • 2 cups of rhubarb sliced in thick chunks
  • ¼ cup of sugar, Splenda or Stevia
  • ½ teaspoon of water
  • ¼ cup of water


  1. Combine rhubarb, sugar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to boil.
  2. Lower to medium and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every so often.
  3. Mash gently with wooden spoon into a thick sauce
  4. Serve as needed on dish of your choice – perfect for poultry, pork, and even steak


Strawberry and Rhubarb Pudding Cake

A light strawberry cake is given a zest with a rhubarb sauce.


  • 4 cups diced fresh or frozen rhubarb
  • 4 cups of sliced strawberry slices (fresh is best)
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup butter or shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Cinnamon


  1. Combine rhubarb with 1 cup of the sugar in a saucepan, then cook on medium for 12 to 15 minutes.
  2. Mix butter and sugar until its fluffy and soft
  3. Add in egg and vanilla, then stir.
  4. Add in flour, baking powder, and salt to mixture, then add milk, and stir.
  5. Stir in strawberries into mixture
  6. Sprinkle in a dash of cinnamon, to taste
  7. Pour cake mixture into baking dish after greasing.
  8. Coat cake with rhubarb.
  9. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes. Test with toothpick and remove when it comes out clean.
  10. Let cool, then serve.
  11. Add dollop of whipped cream if desired.


Wild Rice Rhubarb Pilaf

This pilaf is modified on a popular recipe. You can adapt as needed.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 rhubarb stalks, chopped and with leaves removed
  • 1 rib of celery
  • 1 cup of golden raisins
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) less-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 package of your favorite wild rice
  • 1 cup of cashews or sliced walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup


  1. Prepare wild rice according to the package directions, then set aside.
  2. Take a large skillet, and melt butter, then cook onions on medium-high for 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, and continue cooking for 1 minute.
  3. Combine the rhubarb with the onions, and stir in broth.
  4. Combine honey or maple syrup with mixture, letting simmer on low.
  5. Take cooked rice and stir it in letting it get coated well.
  6. Add in golden raisins and nuts
  7. Serve

Rhubarb Ice Cream

Light in ingredients, big on flavor, rhubarb ice cream is a perfect treat for spring and summer.


  • 4 cups rhubarb, fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup sugar or sugar substitute
  • One 10 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups heavy cream, cold


  1. Cook rhubarb and sugar together in small pan on medium-high until rhubarb is tender.
  2. Add in vanilla extract, then stir.
  3. Cover and refrigerate mixture for 1 hour, stirring after the first 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in chilled rhubarb with condensed milk in bowl.
  5. Let a new bowl chill in freezer. When cold, place whipping cream in bowl and beat until slightly firm. Add whipped cream into rhubarb mixture.
  6. Fold in the rest of the cream.
  7. Cover and leave in freezer overnight.

Rhubarb Pie with Milk

This rhubarb pie recipe comes courtesy of The Akron Cook Book by the Ladies Aid Society of the First Methodist Episcopal Church (1921). It’s a pie that your grandmother might have made in her kitchen. Prepare it with your favorite premade pie crust for a quick dessert.


  • 1 cup rhubarb, sliced thin
  • 1 cup sugar (or sugar substitute)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup of sweet milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 teaspoons of flour


  1. Mix your sugar, egg yolks and flour together in a bowl.
  2. Add milk, then the rhubarb.
  3. Sprinkle in lemon extract, then pour mixture into your crust.
  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, let cool.
  5. Top with whipped cream.







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