veggie of the month - rhubarb

Rhubarb

Live Well Sioux Falls and the Sioux Falls Food Council is proud to present the Eat Well, Live Well campaign! Each month this campaign will highlight a new fruit or vegetable along with a healthy recipe developed by local Sioux Falls chefs and restaurants.

The featured food item for June is Rhubarb!

The first thing to know about rhubarb is that only the stalks of the rhubarb plant can be safely eaten. Rhubarb leaves (cooked or raw) contain toxins that are poisonous.

Here are some other interesting facts:

  • Rhubarb is in season during the spring and summer.
  • It is best to select firm, red stalks that are not curled or limp. Rhubarb is tart but red stalks will taste sweeter and richer versus green stalks which may be more sour.
  • Rhubarb is often grown in gardens, but can grow successfully in most areas of a person’s backyard and can be spotted around farm buildings and barns.
  • It is most often cooked but the stalks can be eaten raw.
  • 1/2 cup of cooked rhubarb equals 1 serving of vegetables—and remember we want to get 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day!
  • Because of its tart flavor, sugar is often added. However a serving of rhubarb without sugar is only 29 calories! An alternative to adding sugar is to combine with sweeter fruits such as strawberries.

Want to start growing rhubarb in your backyard or garden? Great! Rhubarb grows well in most of the United States. If planting in a garden, plant where it will not be disturbed as it will likely come back each year for five years or sometimes much longer! In South Dakota it is best to take a pre-established rhubarb plant and divide the roots. Well established roots can be dug up and divided into 4 to 8 pieces and replanted in other areas as long as each piece has at least one strong bud. So share with your neighborhood and community! Planting seeds is not recommended except in extremely southern areas of the United States.

Click here for more information about when to plant, spacing, depth, care, and harvesting from the University of Illinois Extension and check out this video for helpful tips on rhubarb selection, storage, and prep from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

The featured Sioux Falls chef is Avera McKennan’s Executive Chef Drew Laberis. Learn more about rhubarb and get Chef Laberis’ Easy Rhubarb Lentil Salad recipe with this Pick It! Try It! Like It! fact sheet.

Don’t stop there! Find ways to promote rhubarb at your work, school, childcare, and in your community!

Sources: Eat Well, Live Well Campaign, Pick It! Try It! Like It!Fruits & Veggies More MattersThe University of Main Cooperative Extension, University of Illinois Extension