Food facts, Rhubarb

Rhubarb Nutrition, Selection, Storage & Availability Because rhubarb is 95% water, its nutritional attributes are minimal.  Rhubarb is a fair source of potassium, is low in sodium and has minor amounts of vitamins; however, the stalks of rhubarb contain high amounts of Vitamin C, dietary fiber and calcium. When buying rhubarb, look for crisp, fresh stalks.  There are two types of rhubarb -- red leaves and green leaves -- and each has several available varieties.  Peel off any stringy covering before use.  For storage, rhubarb stalks can be kept in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator for two to four weeks.  Some common uses of rhubarb include pies, tarts, puddings, breads, jam, jellies or as a sauce served over ice cream. Rhubarb leaves contain high amounts of oxalic acid, a toxic and potentially deadly poison, and only the stalks are edible.  Take care to only use the stems when cooking with rhubarb.  Fresh rhubarb is available in Wisconsin from May through late June.

Rhubarb Extras Although often thought of as a fruit, rhubarb is in fact a vegetable and is a close relative of garden sorrel.  Rhubarb originated in Asia over 2,000 years ago and was first used for medicinal purposes.  According to folklore, Chinese doctors used the plant for its medicinal qualities to reduce fever and cleanse the body.  In the 18th century, rhubarb was first used as a culinary ingredient in Britain and the United States.

Information from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection, the University of Wisconsin-Extension and the Rhubarb Compendium.