Rhubarb season is short, and that only makes us appreciate this tart vegetable even more. Every spring, we look forward to cooking and baking with rhubarb because it’s fleeting and special! If you think the only things you can make with rhubarb are jam and pie, we have many more ways to use rhubarb that you can enjoy!
Culinary Nutrition Benefits of Rhubarb
Nutritionally speaking, rhubarb is:
- rich in fibre, which aids digestion, blood sugar balance and healthy cholesterol levels
- beneficial for cardiovascular health
- supports digestive health and blood sugar balance
- a source of immune-supportive Vitamin C and bone-building calcium.
Rhubarb is very tart – some may even describe it as bitter – and tastes much better if you add sweetness to it (we like using natural sweeteners), though not so much that you mask its lovely acidity. While you can eat rhubarb stalks raw, as they are extremely fibrous, we prefer to cook them so they soften (this also releases some of its juice). Do not eat the leaves – they are poisonous!
Check out some of our favourite ways to use rhubarb below and let us know yours too!
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15 Ways to Use Rhubarb
Photo: Monika Grabkowska on UnSplash
Yes, rhubarb jam is a classic and that’s why it’s first on our list! With minimal ingredients, jam gives rhubarb the chance to shine. If you don’t have canning experience, you can easily make freezer jam. To help your jam thicken, add a bit of apple for its natural pectin or try a few spoonfuls of omega 3-rich chia seeds.
You can have apple pie at almost any time of the year – make your springtime special by baking up a delicious rhubarb pie.
Tarts or Galettes
A simple rhubarb filling or chopped rhubarb can take your gluten-free desserts to the next level. If tart crusts are too fussy for you, try making a galette – it’s free-form and rustic, and shows off rhubarb nicely.
Rhubarb chutney offers a tart complement to many dishes. We like to use it as a savory sandwich spread, dollop it over meat or tofu, serve it with gluten-free crackers and dairy-free cheese, roll it up in dumplings with vegetables, and dip chickpea flatbread in it.
Muffins or Scones
Instead of dried fruit or chocolate chips, fold in finely chopped rhubarb into your muffin and scone recipes. If you’re puzzled by gluten-free baking, this Gluten-Free Flour Guide and Substitution Reference has you covered.
Rhubarb compote is extremely simple – you just stew rhubarb and a sweetener on the stovetop until it breaks down and becomes soft and gooey. It’s one of our favourite ways to use rhubarb! You can make this with rhubarb only, toss in additional fruits like apples, strawberries or raspberries, or enhance it with pantry spices like ginger or cinnamon. It’s amazing to eat on its own, and we love dolloping it on oatmeal, ice cream, dairy-free yogurt, dairy-free cheesecake, or brownies.
Blend rhubarb into your favourite popsicle recipes for a quick and easy frozen treat. This option is very kid-friendly!
Dairy-Free Ice Cream
We’ll never get tired of new ice cream flavours! Blend cooked or fresh rhubarb into your dairy-free ice cream recipes, or swirl some rhubarb compote throughout.
Flavour up your kombucha with some chopped rhubarb. Learn exactly how to do this in our Guide to Brewing and Flavouring Kombucha.
There aren’t too many vegetables that go well in crumbles, but rhubarb is definitely an exception. Keep your crumble rhubarb-only or try it with a mix of different seasonal fruits.
Soda or Elixir Syrup
Simmer up some rhubarb and a natural sweetener of your choice, then strain the solids. Add splashes of the resulting liquid to soda water, mocktails, iced elixirs, iced teas, or sip a shot glass on its own.
Not all ways to use rhubarb are sweet treats! Add aromatics like onions, garlic, and ginger, as well as spices such as cumin, coriander, and allspice, along with apple cider vinegar and you’ve got an amazing savory sauce to complement fish, poultry, pork, meat or tofu. You could also amp up the creaminess with coconut milk or nut or seed milk, if you’d like.
You can also add rhubarb to your BBQ sauce or homemade ketchup for a bit of tang.
Soups and Stews
If you’ve ever tried apple and butternut squash soup, paired grilled stone fruits or berries with a salad, or dotted your gluten-free pizza with fresh figs, you’ll know that fruit complements a wide range of savory dishes! Try chopping up some rhubarb for some zing in your next pot of soup or one-pot stew meal.
If you’re looking for an idea to start with, try adding a cup of chopped rhubarb to the pot the next time you make tomato soup. Blend up the mixture with some cashews or thick coconut milk for extra luxuriousness.
We adore the caramelization that happens when we roast rhubarb in the oven with the simplest of adornments such as coconut oil, honey, and cinnamon.
If you enjoy experimenting in the kitchen and trying new recipes, one of these rhubarb beauties may be the next thing you make!
Header Image: iStock.com/Anna_Shepulova