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Rhubarb Ruminations

May 10, 2012 by Dean Simmons, Registered Dietitian

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Spring is finally here. The tulips are up, the trees are budding and the first crops of BC grown veggies and fruit are on their way. I especially look forward to the arrival of rhubarb season. For me rhubarb is a comfort food that is associated with many a fond memory.

I remember riding around my neighbourhood with my friend on little BMX bikes when I was around 10 years old. There were rhubarb plants growing in the backyards with leafy stalks poking through the fence into the alleyway.  On a dare we would rip off a stalk, take a bite and then laugh watching each other’s faces pucker up from the tartness of the rhubarb. Later we’d ride home and enjoy something deliciously rhubarby made by our parents.

Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, but most people use it like a fruit - either way it counts towards meeting your recommended daily intake of vegetables and fruit. It’s commonly made into jams or spreads or baked into pies muffins or cakes. While rhubarb is rich in potassium, vitamin C, fibre and other nutrients, rhubarb recipes tend to be made with a relatively high amount of sugar to counter the tartness of the stalks. Strawberries or apples can be added to cut down on the need for added sugar.

At home I like to make stewed rhubarb. It’s quick, easy and tasty. I like the tartness of rhubarb and I typically add less sugar than called for in recipes - just enough to take away the mouth puckering effect. Here’s what I do:

  • Clean and chop the stalks, discard the leaves
  • Place the pieces into a pot with just enough water to cover the bottom and prevent sticking
  • Simmer gently on medium heat until the pieces soften and begin to break apart
  • Bit by bit add just enough sugar or honey needed to balance out the tartness of the rhubarb, adjust to your taste preferences
  • Finish off with some ground cinnamon or ginger


At home stewed rhubarb doesn’t last very long. We enjoy it straight out of the bowl, stirred into thick plain yogurt, or on top of oatmeal.

What do you do with rhubarb?

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