Jan 21, 2012


The first shipment of rhubarb was sent to the United States in 1770 from London. Most of the world recognizes it as a vegetable, but the US classifies it as a fruit. There are rhubarb festivals around the country, but mainly in the northeast, where it grows abundantly.

Rhubarb is a perennial and grows rather wild if you do not keep up with it. Easy to grow and exciting to watch it come back each year in the spring. We always had some in the yard along with strawberries, which will also grow wild.

I was in the store last spring, picked up some rhubarb and the person at the register did not know what it was. I had to explain what it was and how it was used. My mother used to make rhubarb pie and stewed rhubarb (cook it down and eat it like applesauce). It also makes great jam. Ah, it has a wonderful tart taste and also good for you.

When taken internally in small doses, rhubarb acts as an astringent tonic to the digestive system, when taken larger doses rhubarb acts as a very mild laxative. It is a useful alternative to prunes to keep things flowing. . . People claim that rhubarb enhances the appetite when it is taken before meals in small amounts, that it also promotes blood circulation and relieves pain in cases of injury or inflammation, inhibits intestinal infections, and can also reduce autoimmune reactions.

If you’re in the vicinity of Knott’s Berry Farm you will get stewed rhubarb with your meal, whether you want it or not. Children in the UK and Sweden dip a stalk in sugar and eat it raw. You do not want to eat the leaves or flowers because they can be toxic. Another delicious reason to look forward to Spring.