Learn how to freeze rhubarb – step by step tutorial. Preserve that fresh taste of early summer to use on a cold winters’ day.
How to grow rhubarb
Rhubarb is a ridiculously easy plant to grow.
It grows best in cooler climates, that go below 40°F in the winter and stay cooler for most of the summer. Optimum summer temperature is 75°F.
If you get hotter than that for the majority of the summer, don’t be discouraged. The plant may go dormant in these hotter periods, but keep it watered and it should come back when temperature drops, or the next year.
Rhubarb will grow in most soils, but prefers well drained soils and it does best in full sun.
It’s best to use organic fertilizers like manure, to feed rhubarb. High nitrogen inorganic fertilizers can damage roots. Mulch around plants to discourage weeds.
No insects of consequence, but is susceptible to crown rot in poorly drained soils.
What is rhubarb?
Rhubarb is a herbaceous perennial plant (meaning that it looses it leaves in the winter and it comes up year after year) that grows in the northern parts of the US and Canada.
It has a bright, tart flavor that pairs perfectly with strawberries because of their sweetness, so you often will see them together in recipes.
It mostly used in desserts but there are savory applications where it shines as well.
- Do not harvest any stalks for the first 3 years to allow the plant to become established.
- Harvest stalks when they are 12-18″ long. Timing will depend on climate. Be sure to always leave a minimum of 2 stalks on the plant.
- To harvest, grab a stalk by the base and gently twist.
- Best time to harvest is early to late June, in most areas where rhubarb grows.
IMPORTANT!! The only part of the rhubarb plant that is edible is the red (or green and red) leaf stalks, technically known as the petiole of the leaf. Discard the leaves as they are poisonous!
What you need
- parchment paper
- chopped rhubarb
- rimmed baking sheet
Step by step how-to
Wash rhubarb well. Cut off the thickest part at the bottom end. Chop rhubarb into 1 inch pieces.
Place in single layer on parchment, on a rimmed baking sheet.
Freeze at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Grab both long ends in your hand to move rhubarb to center of parchment.
Just pour into freezer bag. It can also be vacuum packed for an even longer shelf life.
Remove as much air as you can. Be sure to label and date the bag, so you know how old it is.
If your freezer is anything like mine, things can get lost in there for a long time!
Does rhubarb require peeling?
If you harvest the rhubarb at 12-18″ long, it does not require peeling. If you let it go longer than that, just peel the flat edge of the thicker stalks.
Can frozen rhubarb be used in baking?
Yes, absolutely, frozen rhubarb can be used in all of favorite rhubarb dishes. Some recipes may require a slightly longer cooking time.
Must it be blanched first?
I’ve found that blanching is truly unnecessary. Some folks are suggesting the texture is be better. I have not found this the case, since as mentioned above, it is rarely served raw.
- If you would like to blanch the pieces first, get a large pot of water on to boil.
- Set up a cold water ice bath in a large bowl.
- Add rhubarb pieces to the boiling water for one minute.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and immediately drop in ice water bath.
- Once cool, remove from ice water and place on paper towel. Pat pieces dry.
- Then proceed with freezing just like the raw pack process above.
Is frozen rhubarb safe to eat?
The short answer is yes, frozen rhubarb is perfectly fine to eat. There has been an old wives tale stating that frozen rhubarb can be poisonous. This is simply not the case.
But remember, the only edible part of the rhubarb plant is the leaf stalk, or petiole.
How long will frozen rhubarb last?
Freeze the rhubarb for about a year. It will freezer burn if you freeze longer than that.
Does it lose texture?
Perhaps, to a certain degree, frozen rhubarb gets a bit more watery and has less texture than fresh. Owing to the fact that most rhubarb recipes are cooked to soften the fruit, this is really a non-issue.
Things to make with frozen rhubarb
Use the frozen rhubarb in all of your favorite rhubarb recipes, including;
- rhubarb vinaigrette
- Vintage rhubarb pie
- rhubarb crisp or crumble
- low sugar rhubarb jam
- rhubarb compote
- rhubarb sauce as a topping for ice cream, pound cake or cheesecake.
Tools I use
So next time you are at the farmer’s market, grab a few bunches of rhubarb and freeze some, so you can savor the taste of summer all year long!
Want to learn how to grow your own rhubarb? These posts are packed full of information about how to get that big harvest by the end of the season! Don’t miss our How to Start a Garden Series!
If you have any questions or comments, please ask in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe today.
Enjoy. And have fun cooking!
How to Freeze Rhubarb
- 1 bunch rhubarb stems
- Remove leaves from rhubarb stalks. Discard leaves safely, they are poisonous.
- Wash thoroughly. Trim ends.
- Chop into 1" pieces.
- Place on parchment lined rimmed baking sheet, in single layer.
- Freeze about 4 hours or overnight.
- Place frozen rhubarb in freezer bags. Date and label them. IT is also helpful to measure the quantity in each bag, for future reference.
- Use frozen rhubarb in all of your favorite recipes.