Rhubarb is one of those love it or hate it vegetables. Yes, it’s a vegetable (that people generally use like a fruit). It would seem to be related to celery or even cardoons because of the stalk, however, it’s actually related to buckwheat. It has long thick stalks that vary in color from pale green to bright red. Americans tend to go for the red stalks although the green ones have a more pungent flavor.
Look for stalks that are firm, hefty and lie flat, without looking dry or cracked. The leaves and roots are poisonous and potentially deadly, so use only the stalks! Rhubarb is best in the early spring to summer although you can get hothouse varieties most of the year.
Rhubarb is very tart which is why it is often paired with fruit and cooked, however it can be eaten raw, or juiced. It has a long history of medicinal use and is believed to have a balancing effect on the digestive tract. While my husband loves strawberry rhubarb pie, this locavore prefers it in my cousin’s rhubarb chutney.
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