If you think rhubarb is just something tart to pair with strawberries in pie, have we got good news for you: This lovely spring vegetable (yes, it’s a veggie!)—so abundant at farmers markets right now—does much more.
The rosy stalks are loaded with vitamin K, which is considered protective for brain health and essential for blood clotting. The stalks are also a good source of vitamin C and important minerals like calcium and potassium.
To buy the best rhubarb, choose the really red stalks. The green ones are good too, but the red ones have more vitamin A—which is key for vision and a healthy immune system—and are somewhat sweeter. But beware: Even sweeter rhubarb is still super-tart (though that’s what we love about it).
Also look for stalks that are straight, bright, and crisp, with no soft spots. If the leaves are attached, cut them off and discard right away. (More must-know info on the leaves below.)
Store the stalks in the fridge, in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer. When you’re ready to use them, wash them and chop off the tough bottom pieces. If the skin is very tough, you can peel it, but you will lose a lot of the color this way. Use a sharp paring knife to loosen the skin at the top and pull it down and off in strips.
Finally, to enjoy that rhubarb, here are a few of our favorite recipes: You can use it in a vinaigrette drizzled over spring beets. Or stew rhubarb with strawberries and chia seeds for a delicious strawberry-ginger chia jam; turn it into a sweet and sour barbecue sauce for rhubarb-glazed shrimp; or add it to lentils for a rhubarb-lentil soup with crème fraiche.
Now remember those leaves I said to toss? They are actually toxic to eat (though it’s safe to compost them). Check out this video to learn more about the dangers of rhubarb leaves, plus two other surprising foods that can actually kill you. Eek.