Rhubarb’s intensely tart flavor and velvety texture when cooked make it a popular ingredient in pie fillings—so popular, in fact, that in some regions of the U.S. it is also known as “pieplant”. The leaves of the plant are mildly toxic and are not eaten; the colorful, celery-like stalks are usually cooked and combined with sugar to offset their tartness. In the U.S. it is most often treated as a fruit, but can be used in savory preparations, as well. We love it baked into pies and cakes, cooked down into compotes, or simmered and turned into tart sauces or syrups.
HOW TO BUY
Rhubarb stalks should be a vibrant pink or light green, glossy, and firm. Stalks that have been pulled, rather than cut (look for uneven, craggy ends) will last longer. Deep red stalks tend to be sweeter than paler ones.
HOW TO STORE
Discard the leaves and store the stalks in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer. Wash rhubarb when you’re ready to use it. Both fresh and cooked rhubarb freeze well, wrapped tightly in freezer bags.
HOW TO PREPARE
Wash with cold running water. Trim off leaf ends, roots, and any blemished areas of the stalk. If the stems are too fibrous you may need to peel some of the tougher layers.