8 Rhubarb Uses

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.

Strawberry rhubarb pie. © Liesl Clark

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.”

This year's rhubarb is, well, GIANT. © Liesl Clark

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.

Use rhubarb leaves as insecticide. © Liesl Clark

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.


Drink only a drop at a time. This rhubarb hooch is strong!

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.


Strawberry rhubarb yogurt muffins, Photo: Liesl Clark

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.


That’s ice, not sugar, on our stash of frozen rhubarb.

What rhubarb uses can you add?

Easy DIY Hair Detangler

DIY Detangler Before and After. Photo © Liesl Clark

Detangle yourself from purchasing unnecessary hair products when the secret to getting difficult-to-brush curly or coarse hair tangle-free is oil and water. We’ve learned this secret the hard way. With a daughter who loves her hair long, but doesn’t love to brush it, we end up with tangled dreadlocks in a matter of hours. And sleeping on them makes the tangles multiply.

Rather than buying yet another bottle of detangler, we came up with the perfect solution. Put some of your favorite oils in some water in a pretty bottle that has a spray pump on the top of it. That’s the secret! An attractive bottle, oil and water.

Our detangler bottle is an old Aveda bottle. Photo © Liesl Clark

Be sure to shake the bottle before spraying it on your hair. We take the added step of doing the major detangling when her hair is wet. It seems to ease the pain for our 10-year-old who won’t let me near her locks with a brush.

What oils to use?

We simply looked in our cabinet and found some delicious-sounding massage oils and have used those. The key is to choose an oil as a base and then add a few drops of essential oil for a soothing scent.

These are our favorite oils to use as a base:

Coconut oil (heated up)

Avocado oil

Apricot oil (this was a bottle given to us from our women friends in the village of Kagbeni in Nepal, they use it on their hair daily)

Olive oil (then add a favorite essential oil)

Jojoba oil

Sweet almond oil

Possible essential oils to use:

Geranium oil

Lavender essential oil




Grapefruit seed extract

Round up your favorite oils to mix with water for a DIY detangler. Photo © Liesl Clark

Start with a 5:1 ratio of water to oil and, depending on how thick your hair is, you might want to increase the oil part of the equation. For our daughter, we’re comfortable at 3:1.

As her Daddy says, “Goodbye Buffalo Soldier Girl!” — at least for this week.

Let us know how your water and oil hair detangler goes, in the comments below!