What Does Rhubarb Taste Like? The Curious World Of Our Garden

Rhubarb sounds quite strange, doesn't it? I thought so too, and therefore I have not tried it until recently. But now that I did I regret I have not done it much, much earlier.

When I was a child, my mom and granny were the ones responsible for food preparation. Until recently, I was quite unaware of how limited the list of ingredients they used was, especially when it comes to fruit and vegetables.

Namely, they only used certain produce every time. They were very creative, I have to give them credit for that, and maybe that is the reason I have not noticed the lack of diversity in their cooking routine until I grew up to be quite old.

When I started doing grocery shopping and cooking on my own, I began discovering a whole new world of produce. There are many things I had to try for the first time, and it was not always a pleasant experience.

When I finally stumbled upon rhubarb for the first time I was quite puzzled. The name sounded strange, and the look was not very inviting either. I could not even tell whether it is a vegetable or something else!

For this reason, I did a bit of research to find out what rhubarb is, how healthy it is to eat and decided it was worth the risk. I tried it a few years ago.

So, what does rhubarb taste like? Read on to find out that and much more!

I will tell you one thing - I have already planted it in my garden! 🙂

What is Rhubarb? Rhubarb Defined

I guess a lot of you have not heard about rhubarb at all. It does not have anything to do with how old you are or how well informed you might be, it is simply not a popular vegetable and therefore not at all easy to find and buy. If you have not seen it or tasted it, you are surely curious about it!

Rhubarb is actually a perennial vegetable that most likely originated in China and belongs to the Polygonaceae family. Its roots were first used for medical purposes, and when it was brought to Europe people started using it for cooking, especially for baked goods.

It succeeds in warm climates, and people use only the fleshy stems. The leaves and roots are both toxic due to high levels of oxalic acid. The stalks can be pink, red or even light green, but the color does not indicate how ripe it is.

You can consume it raw with some sugar or salt (I personally prefer it with salt as it brings out the sweetness), or boiled until soft. It is best when combined with strawberries in a strawberry -rhubarb pie that my boy adore! You can also make a rhubarb sauce, jam, or pickle it. It can be frozen too. 

Extra Info: If you happen to make a mistake and eat the leaves of this plant you might experience the following symptoms: diarrhea, stomach pain, kidney failure, eye pain, seizures, and even coma. It can be deadly too, although that is very rare.

Related: Learn To Find The Best Vegetable Chopper With Barbara

Why is Rhubarb Good for you? The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Rhubarb

First of all, I want to share some good news for all of you who are trying to stay lean - rhubarb is a vegetable with very little calories! You will find only 21 calories in 100 g of petioles.

Furthermore, it has ZERO saturated fats and cholesterol. Great, isn’t it?

On an even brighter side, rhubarb contains some vital phytonutrients. There is an abundance of very important vitamins and minerals, but also a fair deal of dietary fiber and protein that will help you stay saturated for longer and better your digestion as well.

You already got the hint, didn’t you? Rhubarb is a great vegetable to consume whenever you want to use some weight! It will boost your metabolism, better your circulation, improve your digestion and help detoxify your body along the way too. WOW!

When it comes to the essential vitamins, rhubarb contains the following ones:

  1. Vitamin C - we all know how valuable vitamin C is when it comes to boosting our immune system and fighting off free radicals that endanger our health. 
  2. Vitamin K - A serving of rhubarb contains 24% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K. This valuable vitamin will help build your bones and strengthen them. It will also help prevent and limit the neuronal damage in the brain, which is especially important if you are at risk of developing Alzheimer's disease or already suffer from it.
  3. B-complex vitamins (such as riboflavin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and folates) - These vitamins will improve the health of your brain and nervous system, but also your muscles, skin, and hair. They also promote the formation of blood cells in our bodies.
  4. Vitamin A (red stems have a higher percentage than the green ones!) - Being a natural antioxidant vitamin A helps your body maintain your skin healthy and well as well as preserves your healthy eyesight. Some studies proved that food rich in vitamin A could also help prevent oral cavity and lung cancer.

This highly nutritious vegetable also contains a healthy amount of the following minerals:

  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Phosphorus

Rhubarb is also rich in polyphenolic antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene. Due to all these compounds, it can help in the prevention of the Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and numerous cardiovascular problems. What else could you wish for?

I bet you are now even more curious to find out…

What Does Rhubarb Taste Like?

We have come to the most important part, at least for all of you who are reluctant to try it on your own and rather wait for some clue as to what you can expect. So, what does rhubarb taste like?

  • If you eat it raw, with no sugar or salt, the rhubarb will have a very tart taste. Most people who tried it raw for the first time, do not like it and give it up altogether. It almost happened to my hubby, but I was persistent and served him some rhubarb-strawberry pie I mentioned earlier, and he now has quite a different opinion regarding this plant.
  • If I had to compare the taste of rhubarb with any other widely-familiar taste - I would say that it tastes like very sour, unripe apples, but when you add sugar, salt, or even better cook it or bake it with sugar, it becomes much sweeter.

The best friend of rhubarb is strawberry! You are sure to have a delicious meal whenever you combine the two!


How to Eat Rhubarb

As I have already mentioned there are several ways to consume rhubarb, although using it for baked goods is the most popular one by far.

Prepare some sugar as you will have to use it with rhubarb on almost all occasions. Here is how I use it, and how you can use it too:

Wondering how to clean rhubarb? Watch this!

1. Eat it raw!

  • Although not my hubby’s favorite (nor mine to be quite honest), it is not as bad as he made it appear either! In any case, it is the best way to get the feeling of its natural taste - who knows maybe you end up liking it after all! To neutralize the dominant tart taste, you can dip it in sugar or be more creative and try maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar for added sweetness. Just make sure not to give it up altogether even if you do not like it raw - just try to remember my hubby who now begs me to make him rhubarb-strawberry pies almost every day!

2. Bake a pie!

  • I have already said it, but I will say it again just in case you have not remembered this important fact - rhubarb is best used in pies, especially when you pair it with strawberries!

3. Boil it!

  • Boiling rhubarb with sugar is a simple way to make it sweeter. If you do not want to add too much sugar, you can also try cooking rhubarb with some sweet fresh or dried fruit such as berries. As an alternative, you can also cook it in fruit juice

4. Roast it!

5. Dry it up!

  • If you dry some rhubarb, you will have a low-calorie healthy snack whenever you crave for something sweet. Before you get to the drying part though, you have to boil it in water with a bit of sugar and a cinnamon stick. It is done when it becomes a lot like applesauce (in terms of consistency). Finally, take a dehydrating tray, line it with parchment paper and pour the cooked rhubarb on it. Cook for nine hours at 135°.

6. Puree it!

7. Make a sauce out of it!

  • If your family is not a fan of rhubarb, but you are determined to include it into your menu, you can try making a sauce out of it. Make some salsa or chutney and combine it with chicken, turkey, or pork. It will go just fine with some fish like trout too!

Further Reading: What Does The Red Snapper Taste Like? Curious Foodie’s Guide To The Depths Of The Ocean

8. Preserve it!

  • Make a jam, or pickle it, in both cases you will have yourself a healthy treat during cold winter days! In case you are wondering what to pair the rhubarb jam with, check out my recipe for Swedish pancakes!

Conclusion

Now I have answered your question “what does rhubarb taste like,” you can go and give it a try. I have provided many ideas on how to prepare it, but you can be creative and think of some new rhubarb recipe too!

Make sure you do give it a try and let me know how it went! 🙂

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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