How to pick the best rhubarb
Choose rhubarb with straight, crisp, well-coloured stalks and unblemished leaves. Be sure to compost the leaves - they contain oxalic acid and can be toxic.
Editor's note: Oxalic acid - though toxic to humans - decomposes naturally in your compost. It is perfectly safe to compost rhubarb leaves, just don't eat your compost! Here is more information about composting rhubarb.
In the store: The bright pink type of rhubarb with curly, chartreuse coloured leaves has become popular in the last few years. This is a “forced” rhubarb grown in hot houses, and type of rhubarb is grown to force the stalks to shoot up looking for light. This forced growth produces a milder flavoured, beautifully coloured variety of the vegetable.
In your garden: The darker red garden varieties have a more assertive, tannic quality and sometimes can lose their colour when cooked, but this is the kind of rhubarb you want to dip into sugar on a warm spring day and munch on raw.
Rhubarb is used in preserves and sauces, and its tart flavour is an excellent foil for rich pastry in pies and tarts. Watch me make Canadian Living's no-fail pie pastry in our 3-minute video - Perfect pie pastry.
Rhubarb also pairs well with other fruits and berries like apples, strawberries and blackberries. Use it to make a sweet and sour chutney to serve alongside chicken or pork; or stew it with a little sugar and fresh ginger and serve over ice cream.
Grow your own: To grow your own rhubarb, click to read Raising Rhubarb from our sister site, Canadian Gardening.
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