Rhubarb has a 4,700-year-old history, its origins coming from a couple of remote regions in Tibet. I’ve simply known rhubarb as a weird-looking sour stalk with an enormous leaf that makes its presence known in many North American gardens around Mother’s Day when we bake our family favorite: strawberry rhubarb pie. As far as fruit pies are concerned, nothing compares.
Is rhubarb a fruit or a vegetable? It’s actually a veggie, but in this country it took a court case to establish rhubarb officially as a fruit. According to Wikipedia, “Rhubarb is usually considered to be a vegetable; however, in the United States, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties.”
And it’s a versatile “fruit” at that. Aside from dessert (and using it as an umbrella), what else can you do with this weird plant?
1) Put those leaves in your compost. They’ll break down quickly.
2) Hair Dye: Rhubarb root and leaves can be used for hair dye. One recipe here will give you a pink look, the other a beautiful brown.
3) Pot Cleaner: If you want to give your pots an added shine, use rhubarb leaves and the stalk, too. The high oxalic acid content in the leaves renders them toxic, so take care to not ingest them. But they’re fine to handle and use on your pots.
4) Insecticide: The rhubarb leaf is quite toxic. Even insects steer clear of it. Here are 2 recipes to keep your plants bug free.
5) Juice: Try your hand at making rhubarb shrub. What? Shrub. It’s an American classic. And it’s bubbly and tasty. You’ll see.
6) Make a rhubarb liquor! I just chop up my extra rhubarb and put it in a jar with about a cup or so of added sugar and some vodka. Cover it for at least a month, shake it every few days. The longer you let it infuse with rhubarb flavor, the better. You’ll end up with a pink and yummy sweet and sour hooch for your favorite martini.
7) Juice it! I can vouch for the fact that a few tablespoons of fresh rhubarb juice, mixed with carrot juice, orange juice and pomegranate juice is absolutely amazing.
8) Just keep it on hand, chopped up and in the freezer, for all of your baking needs. We throw bits of in all of our muffins throughout the year.
What rhubarb uses can you add?