This herbaceous perennial is quite popular in English speaking countries, although it originated in Asia. Rhubarb has been cultivated for more than 47 centuries and is often used for medicinal purposes. Ancient shamans and healers knew about the purgative qualities of rhubarb and its rich fibre content to help people suffering from constipation regularly.
European explorers and traders brought it to Europe where it was used for pharmaceutical purposes until the 17th century. Eventually, people recognized its food value, particularly after granulated sugar became widely available and affordable.
Rhubarb tastes delicious when properly sweetened and baked in pies. German housewives are especially fond of rhubarb, and talented in baking it in a range of pastries.
Wild rhubarb (event eh cultivated versions turn wild eventually) becomes though and pithy and must be carefully replanted to re-establish itself. The plant must also be pruned appropriately to encourage growth and production.
is quite popular in Ontario and the western provinces of Canada.
Several varieties are readily available: Canada red, Strawberry, Ruby, Tilden, Prince Albert, Valentine, Egyptian queen and German wine.
Stalks grow anywhere from 30 cm to over 1.50 metres and vary from pale green to dark red.
Some varieties must be peeled; others with thin skin can be used as purchased.
is rich in fibre, potassium, malic and citric acids, vitamin C and calcium. It also contains oxalic acid, which prevents the proper absorption of calcium.
Rhubarb leaves and roots are toxic, and must not be consumed. Only stalks are edible.
Rhubarb lends itself well for compotes, and pies, can be candied, sliced and frozen or dried.
It saved the lives of thousands of early settlers who had no access to citrus fruits, peppers, and other sources of vitamin C.