When I was growing up in New England, my parents always had a garden. In their garden, the one thing that came back year after year was rhubarb. My mom was a master at knowing how to freeze rhubarb properly because she had so much of the stuff it was insane. She used to tell my dad that she didn’t care how much darn rhubarb there was in the garden, he should leave it there because she had WAY too much of the stuff. OF course, she had a ton of easy rhubarb recipes in her repertoire and I was always thrilled to find a strawberry rhubarb pie waiting for me for dessert. She spend a TON of time freezing rhubarb because she knew how much we loved that pie! So, can you freeze rhubarb? Definitely. However, you may eventually run out of space and need to start giving it away!
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Freezing Rhubarb and 5 Easy Rhubarb Recipes
Now that I live in the south, I growing rhubarb is really hard. It doesn’t really like the heat and I have to baby it all summer just to get enough to make one pie with. For me, freezing raw rhubarb all summer usually get me just enough to bake with come July or August!
If you want to get started growing rhubarb, check out the video below by Learn How to Garden. If you are already growing rhubarb this summer, here are some tips for freezing it, along with a few easy rhubarb recipes to try in your own kitchen.
Tips for Planting and Growing Rhubarb
Growing rhubarb is easy if you remember a few key things. It really doesn’t like heat so plant it in a place that gets early morning or late afternoon sun. Rhubarb also is a nutrient needy plant. If you plant rhubarb in your garden, plan on using lots of compost.
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Check out my post on cheap and natural organic gardening solutions for great ideas on growing organic rhubarb. If you will be freezing rhubarb, make sure you pick it in the early morning. After a good rain is an even better time to harvest it. You want it as fresh and juicy as possible before you freeze it.
How to Freeze Rhubarb
Rhubarb needs to be picked regularly if you want to ensure a bountiful crop. Honestly, the more you pick, the more your plant will grow. But, once you pick the stuff, what do you do with it all? Here are a few tips for freezing rhubarb so you can enjoy it all year long.
Step One: Choose the Best Rhubarb Stalks:
In order to get the most flavor from your rhubarb, choose only mature stalks that are thick and firm. Most varieties of rhubarb will have the stalk mostly red when ready to pick. There are a few varieties that stay mostly green, however.
You should try and know which variety you have. I grow my rhubarb organically and the only issues I have with bugs are snails that like to eat the leaves. Check out my post on how to get rid of snails in the garden if they are a problem for you as well.
Step Two: Trimming Rhubarb stalks:
Do NOT eat the leaves of your rhubarb. They are toxic! They are not like collard greens or kale. Cut them off and throw them away! When you pick rhubarb, you will grasp the stalk firmly at the base and twist to release it from the root.
This leaves you with a pale, wide, dirty section at the base of the stalk. Trim that off, too. You want only the slim, straight stalk to remain. The only things you really need for this step are a sharp knife and a good cutting board.
I prefer wood cutting boards, personally, but you do have to care for them properly. Treat it to a coating of DIY wood butter every few months and they will last forever.
Step Three: Wash well and chop:
Once you have the stalks trimmed, run them all under cool water and pat dry. Lay them on a cutting board and with a sharp knife, chop them into 1 to 2-inch chunks. Some people like to trim the very outer layer of rhubarb off the stalk. Almost like peeling an apple but you are basically pulling off fibrous threads. Neither my mom nor I have ever done this. Yes, rhubarb is stringy. That is the nature of rhubarb. Personally, I think you end up wasting way too much rhubarb by peeling it.
Step Four: How to Freeze Rhubarb Properly
This is the easy part. Freezing fresh rhubarb can be done by just tossing it into a ziplock freezer bag or glass freezer container. If you are concerned about the chunks sticking together as a clump when frozen, lay them flat on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and THEN freeze.
When they are frozen, place into the freezer container and place back in the freezer. I find that they don’t usually stick together but you can also freeze them back in quantities that you want to cook with.
If your favorite strawberry rhubarb pie calls for 2 cups of rhubarb, freeze it back in 2 cup quantities. Plan ahead. Pick out a few easy rhubarb recipes that you want to try and freeze it back in those quantities.
5 Easy Rhubarb Recipes
Now that you know how to freeze rhubarb, you can cook with it all year long. Rhubarb is incredibly tart and I usually prefer it in dessert recipes with plenty of sugar to balance it out. However, there are a ton of savory rhubarb recipes on Pinterest if that is your preference.
I have seen it in Indian curry dishes, BBQ sauce, relish, and salads. Below are a few easy rhubarb recipes that I have tried, or that are similar to ones that I grew up with in New England. Get started freezing rhubarb this summer and don’t miss out on this amazing ingredient!
Apple rhubarb crisp is a delicious and easy rhubarb dessert recipe. I prefer to use a sweet apple to balance out the tartness of the rhubarb. Add some flour to the fruit mixture to thicken a little bit when it cooks.
You can replace the apples with strawberries for a strawberry rhubarb crisp. The strawberries don’t hold up as firmly when baked but it is still delicious!
Have you ever had a strawberry milkshake? Well, a strawberry RHUBARB milkshake is even more delicious! You will need to cook down the strawberries and rhubarb into a rhubarb sauce and then use that for your milkshake.
Can you freeze rhubarb sauce? YES. So make a ton and freeze it back in ice cube trays over the summer! Then, you can have a strawberry rhubarb milkshake in the middle of winter!
Rhubarb cocktails are a great addition to your girls night or any night that needs a summer cocktail recipe! It is light and refreshing with a nice balance of sweet and tart. Use a small stalk of rhubarb for a drink stirrer! It will give your rhubarb cocktail a unique twist!
Strawberry rhubarb sauce is by far my favorite easy rhubarb recipes of all time. My mom made a ton of it and since you can freeze rhubarb sauce, we ate it year round and not just in the summer.
Making rhubarb sauce is incredibly easy and you can put it over ice cream or just eat it with a spoon. I will say that homemade rhubarb sauce is a bit stringy. This is normal! Learn to love it! If you use sweet strawberries, you can make rhubarb sauce with no sugar or artificial sweeteners at all.
Rhubarb pie was always a big hit in my house growing up. We ate strawberry rhubarb pie, apple rhubarb pie, and even rhubarb custard pie! When you have too much rhubarb, you learn to bake it into just about everything!
So, freezing rhubarb is incredibly easy, right? And growing rhubarb is pretty simple too. Especially since rhubarb is a perennial and it will come back year after year with little effort on your part.
So, if you are looking for easy food to grow in your back yard, I definitely recommend you get some rhubarb seeds and start growing rhubarb in your own garden! Once you know how to freeze rhubarb, you will have enough to try dozens of recipes throughout the year!
Have any other tips for freezing rhubarb that you want to share?
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.