Rhubarb ready for cooking

This year, the rhubarb has flowered or bolted early and has an abundance of tender stalks for cooking now.

Since rhubarb stalks dry out quickly once picked, here’s two tricks to storing the stalks in the refrigerator and preserving their moisture before cooking. First, it’s best to pull the stalks straight off the plant rather than cut them.  Just give the stalk a good tug and it will slide off the plant. Second, rather than cut off all the leaf which is indigestible,  trim the leaf to look like a duck’s webbed foot so the moisture stays in the stalk while you refrigerate it. (Make sure you remove all the leaf when you’re ready to cook your rhubarb.)

rhubarb

Rhubarb harvested by pulling the stalks off the plant and with trimmed leaves to preserve the moisture and tenderness of the stalk. Taken at the Madison Farmers Market, Memorial Day weekend.

And, if you do cut the stems top and bottom, all is not lost. You can cook it right away and freeze it. Or you can put the trimmed stalks in a freezer bag and freeze them until you’re ready to cook them.

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