Did you know? Because rhubarb is so sour, it's rarely eaten raw. It’s usually cooked, sweetened with sugar or used as an ingredient.
It wasn't until the 18th century, when sugar had become cheap and readily available, that rhubarb became popular as a food.
Happy Spring from your LGCFHT dietitians! Aside from the beautiful and mild sunny days, our favourite part of spring is the seasonal vegetables and fruit that start to come to market. One of the first ones to pop up is rhubarb. A favourite of many Ontarians, rhubarb is a unique vegetable known for its sour stalks. In North America, it is often classified as a fruit. The stalks range in colour from red to pink to pale green and have a texture similar to celery. For cooking, the most commonly used variety is called culinary rhubarb, or garden rhubarb – which lots of us can find in our own gardens!
Since rhubarb is such a special part of Ontario spring, we thought we’d look at its qualities a bit more: Rhubarb is not especially rich in essential nutrients, and it is low in calories. However, it is a very good source of vitamin K, and it's also high in fiber, providing similar amounts of fiber as oranges, apples or celery. It is also moderately high in vitamin C, containing 6% of your daily needs. Rhubarb is also a rich source of antioxidant plant compounds such as anthocyanins (which gives it its red colour). But, rhubarb may be high in a compound called oxalate and should be cooked and eaten in moderation, or it could lead to kidney stones. Make sure to always avoid the leaves. Talk to your health care professional if you have questions about this.
Seasonal Recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
2 cups (500 mL) chopped Ontario rhubarb (1/2-inch/1 cm pieces)
1/3 cup (75 mL) Ontario honey
1 tbsp (15 mL) orange juice or water
2 cups (500 mL) thick sliced Ontario strawberries
1 tsp (5 mL) grated orange rind
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
In medium saucepan, combine rhubarb, honey and orange juice; bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in strawberries, orange rind and vanilla. Turn heat off, cover and let stand 5 minutes.