Rhubarb is in full leafy growth, just in time for Strawberry season. Each Summer, I harvest several crops of this unique, healthy, and tasty plant.
Rhubarb is also known as the “Pie Plant.” The edible stalks will return each year, once established. Usually, the root needs to transplant for the plant to do well. I have often found this plant growing in very remote areas.
One season, I was working as a Hunting Camp Cook and found a ditch full of this plant. It made a nice sauce and ended up adding crunch to the salads. I did not have any strawberries on hand, but I did have a can of blackberries, for a cobbler. You can also use the sap of the stalks as an antibiotic or healing ointment. Pioneers, and Native peoples would carry it with them. It would be planted near campsites and gardens. Rhubarb is also perfect for issues of constipation.
Rhubarb is a perfect greenhouse plant. In a controlled, and humid environment, the stalks become redder and sweeter. It is also a great plant that needs almost no care. They do great in direct sunlight and serve as erosion control plants or shade providers, along a gardens edge.
The leaves of the Rhubarb are poisonous! Do not eat them. They do add good chemicals to mulch. It is also a good gardening trick to cover the soil at the end of the season, with the large Rhubarb leaves. They protect the soil and add nutrients as they decay.
The edible stalks can be used for a variety of tasty treats. Desserts, pies, pickles, ice cream, sauces, teas, and crumbles. Add some diced pieces to a fresh salad for crunch. Rhubarb can be frozen, canned, or dried.
My Mother made the best Rhubarb Strawberry sauce. Our annual tradition was to harvest wild Rhubarb, along some local trout streams, and then pick strawberries. She would cut off the leaves and cut the stalk into apieces and inch or so long. The cut-up pieces were put in a pot with water and slowly cooked down. If the sauce was too thin, she added more pieces, if it was too thick, she added water. A few drops of red food coloring also brightened up the dish. When the Rhubarb had cooked apart, she added a few bowls of sliced strawberries and sugar to taste.
This sauce was eaten plain or applied over pound cake or ice cream. Extra jars and tubs were frozen or canned for later. 1 LB. of fresh rhubarb stalks = 3 cups of chopped = 2 cups of cooked. Artificial sweeteners can be used or Agave.
Dig up some great recipes online or in older cookbooks.