Rhubarb with its tart tangy flavor is a spring favorite. Mix with fresh strawberries like my mom did for a fruity sweet & sour pie combination. Rhubarb is actually a vegetable, but is used in the kitchen like a fruit in pies, jams, crumbles and other desserts.
Best Time to Harvest Rhubarb
You can harvest rhubarb all spring and summer. The best time to harvest rhubarb is when the leaf stalks reach around 7-15 inches long. The plant should be well established for the year before you begin to remove many stalks. Do not wait for the rhubarb stem to turn red. The size of the stalk and not the color determines when the rhubarb is ready to harvest. Rhubarb harvest should slow down in late June early July to give the plants enough time to store energy for the winter. You can pick rhubarb up until the first frost, but it should be done in very small quantities to protect the plant.
How to Harvest Rhubarb
Harvesting rhubarb is very easy. Select stalks that are around ten inches long and slide your hand to the bottom of the stalk and pull with a twist. The stalk should come out nice and easy. If you find you are pulling out roots or just can’t reach all the way you can use a sharp knife or shears to cut the stalk. Never pick all the stems off a plant, leave at least 1/3 of the plant to continue to grow. After you cut the stalks off the plant cut off all the leaves and dispose of them, ideally in a compost bin. The leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous and should never be eaten.
U-Pick and Farm Market Rhubarb
Rhubarb can be grown in a home garden or found at local u-pick farms and farm markets. I picked up a couple pounds of pre-picked rhubarb from a farm in my area, Berryland in Abrams, WI. There are a few farms that offer u-pick Rhubarb, however, most only sell it pre-picked. Search for pick your own Rhubarb Farms at upickfarmlocator.com. I used about 6 cups of my fresh cut rhubarb in a Rhubarb Crumble Recipe. I tossed in a few frozen strawberries to add a little extra sweetness. Visit our Pinterest Rhubard Recipe Board for favorite rhubarb recipes.