Ten Easy Ways with Rhubarb

Oh, rhubarb. Poor, misunderstood rhubarb. Food that ranks right up there with butterscotch under “Things Grandparents Like.”

 What is it but that weird fruit (vegetable?) that your mom, neighbor, mailman always has too much of. That leafy thing that looks like celery, but not quite, and only ever tastes good buried under pounds of strawberries inside a pie crust.

Sad, sad, rhubarb.

Hey, wait a minute! This is the year of using what we have. No, this is the year of LOVING what we have! And we have rhubarb, therefore we LOVE rhubarb! I entered this rhubarb season bound and determined to go stalks out on this year’s crop, and I have! I no longer fear the roob (nor do I avoid it out of sheer lack of understanding) and I’m here to tell you that you too can use it and totally enjoy it!


In response to the many, many of those who have said to me, “Well, I’d take some but I don’t know what to doooo with it,” I give you:

Easy Cooked Rhubarb!

  • Don’t be put off by the celery-ness of it. Cooking rhubarb is easy. First, check your stalks to see if they are dry or rubbery. (If so, your rhubarb might be past its prime. Compost it and go back to your neighbor’s house for more.)
  • If there are any leaves attached, discard them. All of them. They’re high in oxalic acid which is poisonous in large doses, and they could make you sick. (But you can compost them, so do that.)
  • Clean your stalks and trim off any icky parts or blemishes. Chop them in 1″ pieces so that you won’t have any long fibers in your compote.
  • Put 4 cups of rhubarb, give or take, in a saucepan along with a tablespoon or two of water and 1/2 cup raw organic sugar, give or take. (See how much of a recipe gal I am?)
  • Seriously. This is hard to screw up. Rhubarb is tart, so if you like sweet, add more sugar.
  • Cook it down over low to medium heat, stirring a lot.
  • It will eventually turn into a pile of brown mush.  That’s how you’ll know it’s done. 

Now, what to do with your compote? There are hundreds of rhubarb recipes out there, of course, but I’m all about the easy right now. There’s no need to complicate things, so here are some of the ways we’re making sure this year’s patch saves us some serious time and money (and not one of them involves a pie.)

1. First, you can press out the liquid and add it to seltzer. It makes a lovely summer spritzer and you will feel fancy drinking it if you put it in a pretty glass.

 2. Then, put the compote on top of your oatmeal.

3. Use it to top vanilla bean ice cream.

4. Layer it into a parfait with pound cake, whipped cream, and crushed pineapple.

5. Spread it on toast. A lot of it. As much as the toast can hold.

6. Turn your short stack into a better-for-you breakfast by topping whole-grain pancakes with rhubarb compote, any other fruit you may have, and a dollop of whipped cream or yogurt. (Note: this photo contains strawberries, too.)

7. Here’s a fun one: halve a ruby red grapefruit, dip the top in coarse raw sugar, then broil until caramelized. NOW, top with rhubarb.

8. Blend it into a smoothie with fresh strawberries and peaches.

9. Spoon it over pork medallions or grilled chicken.

10. Top grilled tuna or smother your salmon steaks.

And those ten suggestions barely scratch the surface of what you can do with your rhubarb if you really put your mind to it. AND, in addition to desserts and other dishes, rhubarb also has a long history of use as a medicinal plant. Rumor has it, it can also be used to dye your hair, keep leaf-eating garden pests away, shine up your burnt pots and pans, and ward off discoloration of your apples and other fruit (much like lemon juice.) I have yet to try all these other uses for rhubarb, but I’ll be sure to let you know when I do.

How about you? Do you know of any other uses for rhubarb? Do you even like rhubarb? Do tell!





  1. Ha ha, my grandparents had a huge garden every year and Rhubarb always made its way into the plantings. They loved Rhubarb and my Grandma made all sorts of wonderful things with it. Great post, especially for those Rhubarb-Unfriendly.
    Ashley B. recently posted..My Favorite Summer Things- 2013 EditionMy Profile

  2. I never knew rhubarb was so versatile! Thanks for sharing these ideas :)
    Maggie C recently posted..$400 Sizzling Summer Cash Giveaway (Open worldwide, ends 7/7)My Profile

    • It is versatile! Who knew, right? And this is just the really easy version. Once the kids are bigger and I have more time in the kitchen, I have a whole list of other rhubarb recipes I want to try!

  3. We inherited a rhubarb plant with our house and it keeps coming back every year and I never know what to do so we just mow it over. So excited to try this!!!

    • I hope you like it! If it happens to be too tart for you, don’t hesitate to add other fruit, like pineapple or strawberries. I like to add strawberries in during the last few minutes of cooking…it’s a great way to stretch the berries, since they can be expensive!

  4. Living in the south I had never heard of rhubarb until I got married and moved away. Still have never eaten any. Not something grown here. You make it look tasty. Thanks for sharing.
    Dawn ~ Spatulas On Parade recently posted..BBQ Bacon Chicken SlidersMy Profile

  5. My mom used to make the best Strawberry and Rhubarb pies! Other than that, I had no idea what to do with them either! Thanks!
    Renae C. recently posted..Twinkies are Back!My Profile

  6. I LOVE rhubarb. I make a rhubarb crunch that is so tart and yummy. I recently moved to FL and have been so surprised at the number of people who have no idea what rhubarb is! They don’t know what they are missing!
    Kalyn Brooke | Creative Savings recently posted..Anniversary Giveaway #1: Two $50 Gift Certificates to Bee’s Knees GemsMy Profile

  7. I have NEVER tried Rhubarb. I may have to try some… Youve made it look so delicious!
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  8. I had no idea you could do so much with rhubarb! Now I’m almost regretting the husband digging up the one in the back yard that came with our house!
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  9. If you have any frozen blueberries left over from last summer that you need to get rid of before picking more, they also make a great addition to a rhubarb sauce or compote.
    Jen @ ThisCrunchyLife recently posted..Zucchini #1 of ?My Profile

  10. Thanks for sharing! My inlaws love rhubarb, but only with buckets of sugar, which is a real turn off for me. Maybe I can use it now.
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