How long does rhubarb last? If you’re like me, and you are lucky enough to have access to a few rhubarb plants, you probably have a lot of rhubarb in your garden right now.
Often when it is in season, you can find fresh rhubarb at your local grocery store or farmers market too.
If you love to cook, then you know that dealing with food spoilage is just a part of the game. No matter how carefully you plan and how diligently you work to use the produce before it spoils.
So, in early summer what do you do if there is too much rhubarb ripe all at once? Here’s a guide to help you find the best way to store your food to keep it fresh and ready for your recipes.
Does Rhubarb go Bad?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Rhubarb does go bad and once it is harvested; it will spoil the fastest if left on the kitchen counter at room temperature.
Therefore, once harvested, make sure to refrigerate to help preserve the stalks. Let’s explore more tips on helping this vegetable last longer.
How Long Does Rhubarb Last?
This answer will depend on how the stalks are stored. At room temperature, they will only last a couple of days. However, you can extend the shelf life of rhubarb by placing them in the refrigerator and they will last five to seven days. However, if you store it in a vented container, it can last up to three full weeks. If you enjoy eating the fresh rhubarb stalk, this is the best way to store.
To help them last longer than a week, it is best to freeze the stalks as they can last up to one year! However, the texture of the rhubarb does change once frozen. Therefore, it is best to use it in recipes such as pies, jams, jellies, drinks, or in baking.
Best Methods to Tell is Rhubarb Has Gone Bad
Sometimes, the bottom end of the rhubarb gets dry or a bit moldy looking. Other times, the stalk is mushy or has brown spots throughout the stalk. Let’s explore when it is still safe to eat and when the produce should be discarded.
Use your nose to smell, eyes to check for mold and discoloration, feel for mushiness and texture changes, and lastly taste can help you tell if your rhubarb has gone bad.
Smell. The stalks should smell fresh a bit tart and sharp, yet at the same time refreshing, fruity and green. If there is any off pungent smell, discard the stalk.
Look at the Stalks
Color. The stalks should look fresh and have the same red or green as when it was growing in the bunch. If it has grey, brown, or black spots, it is sure signs of the rhubarb stalk rotting and should be thrown away.
Mold. If you cut your rhubarb stalk rather than pulling it out, after a few days, you may notice a bit of mold starting to grow on the cut part. At this point, it is okay to use this rhubarb yet, just cut the stalk a few inches above the end. However, the stalk should be examined closely. Once the mold starts moving up the stalk, it should be discarded. What does mold look like? Mold can be black, or green specs or it can be a white fir that has grown. If you see any of this mold growth, it is safest to not consume the rhubarb.
Feel the Rhubarb
Texture. The rhubarb should be solid when pressed. If you bend the stalk, it should snap in half just like it would when freshly picked. If you notice that the talk is soft, tender, or mushy, it is time to discard the stalk. These are signs of the stalk being rotten.
Taste the Stalk
Flavor. This is a method to tell if your stalk is rotten; however, use caution with this method. If it is already rotten and you taste it, you could get sick. Therefore, use the other methods to tell if your rhubarb is safe to eat first. The rhubarb should have a tart flavor and be crisp. If it is soft and tastes bitter, do not use it. It is safer to discard.
Therefore, to reduce the chances of your fresh produce spoiling, it is important to know how to best store rhubarb to keep it fresh and safe to eat for as long as possible.
How to Store Rhubarb Once Picked?
First, it is important to remove the leaves of the rhubarb stalks. They are poisonous and should be cut off before using. Once this is done, let’s explore a few options available to you for storing your stalks.
Room Temperature. If you plan on using your fresh picked stalks within a day or two. You can store it at room temperature. Let them breath and keep them dry. Do not wrap then up or put them in a plastic bag if storing at room temperature.
Refrigerated Storage. Cut stems can last up to four weeks if they are wrapped in a damp cloth then put in a bag or container with holes in it. The holes allow for air circulation. For best quality, store the stalks in the vegetable crisper drawer in the refrigerator.
Freezing Rhubarb. It is not necessary to blanch the raw rhubarb. Rather, just wash the stalks in cold water and cut into 1-inch size pieces. Next, lay them flat in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. The paper will help reduce the chance of the pieces sticking to the tray once frozen. Place the pan in the freezer for a few hours. Once frozen, transfer them to freezer bags or other airtight container and store them in the freezer for up to a year. Freezing is a great way to store rhubarb over the winter.
To be honest, sometimes, if I am in a hurry, I just wash the stalks, cut them up and get them into a freezer bag. I lay them flat to freeze and that’s it. When freezing produce this was without pre-freezing the rhubarb, the pieces will stick together. I don’t mind as I can break up the pieces in the bag pretty easily before adding them to my recipes.
How to Use Frozen Rhubarb?
Frozen rhubarb is great in a wide variety of recipes. You can make ice cream, jam, juice, compote, even bread. Here are a bunch of rhubarb recipes for you to try.
Can You Eat Rhubarb Raw?
Yes, as a child when I liked to eat things that were a bit tart and sour, I loved it. I would stand in the garden in the early spring when those first small ruby-red stalks were just ripening with a small bowl of sugar. I would dip the end of the stem into the sugar and bite off a piece. The sweetness of the sugar and tartness of the rhubarb was a delicious combination of sweet tart taste. Just make sure that you do not consume the rhubarb leaves as they are poisonous.