Rhubarb isn't exactly one of those kitchen ingredients that everyone knows about yet. When used, it's just as a part of a strawberry-rhubarb pie. However, it is more interesting than you might think and there are tons of other ways to consume it. So what is rhubarb? Prepare to find out. 

What is Rhubarb?

Rhubarb is surprisingly a vegetable, like other stalky foods such as celery, despite being used alongside sweets and sugar often. It's known as a spring-season delight, famous for its beautiful, bright red color. Rhubarb is actually, in the US, legally categorized as a fruit. This was supposedly because businesses would be able to pay less tax on imported rhubarb, as taxes were lower on fruits than on vegetables, and rhubarb was already widely used as if it were a fruit. Rhubarb has significant amounts of carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C, which means it's got tons of nutrients you can feel great about! Although they are known to be bright pink, these veggies are actually ripe regardless of color. Other plants achieve a certain color when ripe, but not rhubarb! The stems' colors don't indicate maturity or sweetness of the plant, but the length of the stalk does. In the following sections, I'll give you some tips on finding the perfect rhubarb. 

Get Cooking with Rhubarb!

Naturally, rhubarb is extremely tart, and hard to eat. It almost always gets cooked. So, here are some recipes for your own rhubarb! 

1. Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

sauce, meat, vegetable, tomato
Judy Holtz

This fruity sweet dish is delicious and you can even replace the strawberries with other fruits and berries and still get that flavor.

2. Apple and Rhubarb Herbal Tea

Herbal tea has so many benefits, and adding rhubarb only heightens the extent of them! This recipe turns out so refreshing and fruity, yet simultaneously it's perfectly sweet. 

3. Rhubarb Fruit Leather

With suggested substitutions, this recipe allows for a lot of individuality and freedom. These rolls can have various different colors depending on the ingredients you decide to use. 

4. Honey-Rhubarb Sesame Chicken

A rare yet delicious rhubarb recipe that ISN'T a dessert or a sweet dish has been spotted! It might sound risky, but it's a quick recipe that can surely deliver. 

5. Sticky Rhubarb Cinnamon Buns

Just looking at these cinnamon buns through the screen makes me want to get my fingers sticky and I can imagine how great they must smell. 

Spotting Great Rhubarb

Rhubarb is naturally harvested between April and September and can be forcibly harvested between December and March. So, try picking up rhubarb at your local farmer's market between April and June. Make sure the stems are 7-15 inches long and disregard their color unless you are looking to add some reddish-pinkness to your dish. Try to snap a stem or two. They should sound crunchy and release a little bit of sap if they are perfect and ready to be eaten. The leaves can indicate freshness, so make sure they look crisp and not wilted. However, do not include the rhubarb leaves in any recipes, as they contain too much oxalic acid to be eaten safely! Although hard to believe, growing rhubarb is actually illegal in Spain because some hungry goats could end up nibbling on these poisonous leaves! Luckily, we humans know better. Rhubarb can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Next time you see this mysterious spring veggie at the grocery store, try picking it up and cooking up something new with it. You might enlighten someone to the wonderful world of rhubarb!