Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a kind of vegetable you either like or hate. Nothing between. It is an herbaceous perennial of the botanical family Polygonaceae with hermaphrodite flowers, consisting of a colored perianth, composed of six to nine segments, arranged in two rows. There are various Rhubarb Recipes as the succulent stems are used in sauces and pies, and can be eaten raw or stewed in desserts.
The earliest recorded use of rhubarb date back to 2700 BC in China where Rhubarb was cultivated for medicinal purposes. Marco Polo is attributed in bringing the drug to Europe in the thirteenth century when it was referred to as the Rhacoma root. Use of rhubarb as food is a relatively recent innovation, first recorded in 17th century, after affordable sugar became available to common people.
Botanically speaking, rhubarb is considered a vegetable, but it’s most often treated as a fruit. Just like fresh cranberries, rhubarb is almost unbearably tart on its own and needs the sweetness of sugar, honey, or fruit juice added to it to balance out the acidity.
Rhubarb is a cool season, perennial crop and requires temperatures below 5 degree Centigrade to break dormancy. It is one of the first food plants to be ready for harvest, usually in mid to late Spring. It grow in many areas, best where summers are cool and moist, with winters cold enough to freeze the ground several inches below the surface.
The colour of stick is determined not only by a plant’s variety, but also by the rate at which it grows. Early Spring the stick grows much slower than in summer so the colour is retained further along its length of stick. In mid summer, at higher temperatures, the stick grows quickly and the colour is lost, becoming green. Considering the fact that both leaves and roots contains poisonous substances (oxalic acid) which are deadly poisonous, they should never be eaten.
Rhubarb is a good source of fibre and contains moderate levels of vitamin C and calcium. It is also low in sodium and contain dietary fiber. Studies have linked the fibre from rhubarb in the diet with reduced cholesterol levels. Rhubarb is a relative of buckwheat and has an earthy, sour flavor.
Rhubarb may not be the most romantic looking edible on earth, but it’s a welcome sight in early spring, when everyone’s fancy turns to thoughts of pie.