Rhubarb is such a wonderful gift of early spring. Before any other fruits or vegetables are showing up in the farmers’ market or our garden, rhubarb is there with its colorful stalks and tart flavor!
Unfortunately though, rhubarb’s cutting season is relatively short. After a few weeks of clipping, it’s important to let rhubarb recoup for next year’s crop. So what if you want to eat rhubarb in July? Freeze it! Rhubarb freezes beautifully, and all the ways you’d use fresh rhubarb—from jams to pies—work just as well with frozen rhubarb.
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Can I freeze fresh rhubarb raw?
Sure can! In fact, that’s how we prefer to freeze it for the best texture and color.
Teach me how to freeze rhubarb!
Freezing rhubarb is almost as fast and easy as freezing strawberries. Here’s all you need to do:
1. Prep the rhubarb. Remove the leaves (they aren’t safe to eat), and cut off any rough ends. Rinse the stalks with cool water, and then cut into bite-sized pieces.
Rhubarb leaves are high in oxalic acid, which is toxic to humans. Make sure to discard the leaves.
2. Freeze! Spread the rhubarb pieces out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Slide the sheet into the freezer until the rhubarb is frozen solid.
3. Move the rhubarb to freezer containers or bags. Transfer your frozen rhubarb to your storage container of choice (more on that in a sec!). Label and seal, removing as much air as you can.
How do I store frozen rhubarb?
Take a peek into my freezer, and you’ll see that I use a variety of storage options for my frozen fruits and veggies. Here are my top four choices:
- Glass Food Storage Containers—I love these because they are reusable and look so nice stacked up in a freezer, but they do take up the most space out of all these storage solutions.
- Glass Canning Jars—These are a little easier to squeeze into nooks in the freezer than the storage containers above, but they still take up a fair amount of space. But, they are glass and reusable, and I always have them around! Be sure to only use freezer-safe jars—look for ones with straight sides.
- Zip-top Freezer Bags—Freezer bags are affordable, and you can find them at nearly any grocery store. However, they are single-use plastic, which isn’t my favorite for food storage.
- Vacuum Sealing Bags—Vacuum bags will save you the most space out of all of the options, but you will need to buy a vacuum sealer.
How long is rhubarb good in the freezer?
Use rhubarb frozen in glass containers, jars, or zip-top bags within 8-12 months. If you vacuum seal your rhubarb, it can stay in the freezer for more like 2-3 years.
Wait though. Isn’t frozen rhubarb poisonous?
You may have heard not to harvest rhubarb after a freeze because it is toxic, and that’s true, but it’s not a problem here! Why? Well, the poisonous part of rhubarb are the leaves—they contain high levels of oxalic acid, which can make humans quite ill. That’s why you should never eat rhubarb leaves, or harvest rhubarb stalks after an overnight freeze.
When a rhubarb plant gets hit by a freeze in the garden, the oxalic acid from the leaves moves down into the stalks of the rhubarb—making the entire stalk heavy in the toxin. This phenomenon doesn’t happen here because we cut off the leaves prior to freezing. Our rhubarb is perfectly safe to eat!
Now that I know how to freeze rhubarb, give me some tips for how to use it!
- No need to to defrost your rhubarb before using in your favorite jam, crumble, or crisp recipe.
- In recipes that call for fresh rhubarb, sub in frozen rhubarb at a 1:1 ratio.
What can I do with frozen rhubarb?
Frozen rhubarb works in almost every recipe that calls for fresh rhubarb. Here are two of our favorites:
- Strawberry Rhubarb Jam. This is a great jam that can use both frozen rhubarb and frozen strawberries. Stash your produce in the spring, and then make your jam whenever you have free time!
- Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Squares. These fan-favorite strawberry rhubarb bars work great as a snack, light breakfast, or a dessert (preferably topped with vanilla ice cream).
- Easy Rhubarb Crisp. I love this crisp from Bless This Mess because it lets the rhubarb shine through—there is no other fruit in this one!
- Berry Rhubarb Punch. This cocktail from Grandbaby Cakes uses rhubarb both in a simple syrup and as a garnish.
- Cherry Rhubarb Margarita. Cherries and rhubarb in one drink? Sign me up for this cocktail from A Worthey Life.
- Rhubarb Breakfast Cake. Count me in for this fluffy snack cake from The View from Great Island.
- Rhubarb Jam with Black Pepper and Cardamom. Frozen rhubarb would work perfectly in this jam from The Hungry Hutch.
- Crispy Rhubarb Lemon Chicken Bake. Rhubarb brings a welcome tartness to this savory dinner from Cotter Crunch.