FoodLink - Purdue Extension


Rheum rhabarbarum
Available from April to May


Rhubarb can be greenish pink to dark red.


Wash under cool stream of water and pat dry with paper towel. Cut off and discard the leaves — never eat the leaves because they contain a poisonous compound called oxalic acid. Remove any brown or scaly spots and trim ends.

Peeling: Peeling is unnecessary, but you can peel if you wish.  To peel, cut a slit on the end of the stalk at the outer edge, grab edge of slit and pull down the strip of stringy fibers from the surface of the rhubarb. Continue this process until you remove all the fibers from the stalk. 

Special note on cookware: When you cook rhubarb, always use a nonreactive pan (such as stainless steel or enamel-lined cast iron). Using other types of pans can cause chemical reactions with the acidic content in rhubarb.

Stew: Because rhubarb is so tart, it's usually cooked in a sugar mixture to sweeten it a little. In a saucepan, mix equal parts water and desired sweetner. Bring to boil until all sweetner is dissolved. Add rhubarb, bring to boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.


Short-Term Storage

Store rhubarb stalk-whole, unwashed, and wrapped in a plastic bag, Keep in the refrigerator produce drawer and use within a few days.

Long-Term Storage

Rhubarb can be frozen or made into jellies.

Learn more about freezing rhubarb.

Learn how to make Strawberry-Rhubarb Jelly.

FoodLink℠ Recipes

Quick Fact

Rhubarb was used as a medicine in China as far back as 2700 B.C.  

Nutrition Information

Serving Size

1 cup diced (122g)







% Daily Value

Total Calories









Dietary Fiber



Total Fat



Saturated Fat







































Food Safety Tips Sources

Never eat rhubarb leaves. They contain a high concentration of the poisonous compound oxalic acid.

Do not use copper, iron, or aluminum cookware when stewing rhubarb. These metals will react with the rhubarb, turning it brown and possibly staining the pan. Instead, use enameled cast iron, stainless steel, anodized aluminum, or nonstick-coated aluminum.

Always keep fresh produce away from raw meat and raw meat juices to prevent cross-contamination. Follow the safe food guidelines for all fresh produce.

Follow the safe food guidelines for all fresh produce.

Related Resources

There are many fun and delicious recipes available for this interesting plant. Take a look here and see what the options are...If you have delicious family recipies...don't hestiate to share them on the FoodLink FacBook page. Rhubarb Recipes from the University of Alaska

Rhubarb is an herbaceous perennial. You harvest the leaf stalks each year in spring. Rhubarb grows from large, fleshy rhizomes. Plant in full sun.

NOTE: Never eat the leaves. They contain oxalic acid and are poisonous.

The plant is medium to tall and can reach a height of 2-4 feet.

Plant dormant plants (called crowns) any time in early spring when the ground can be worked, starting 3-6 weeks before the average last frost date and continuing into April.

Begin harvest the third season after planting for about 4 weeks. Harvest for 8-10 weeks in later years. Leaves should reach 10-15 inches before you pick them.

The estimated yield for a 10-foot row is 12 pounds, about 4 pounds per plant.

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