Rhubarb is a perennial plant with an edible, fleshy stalk similar to celery. Only the stalk is edible because the leafy greens contain a high concentration of oxalate acid, making them inedible and poisonous.
Botanically, rhubarb is a vegetable. However, it is often sweetened and cooked like fruits. In the Northern Hemisphere, fresh rhubarb shows up at the farmer’s market around late spring. This edible stalk is usually available for a short time until early summer.
If you want to enjoy this vegetable a few months from now, you might be thinking of buying it in bulk and preserving it. So, can you freeze raw rhubarb?
Sure, you can! Rhubarb freezes exceptionally well, and it is fantastic for jams, compotes, pies, and other baked goods.
Keep reading. We’ll walk you through the quick and convenient ways to freeze rhubarbs!
Preparing and Blanching Rhubarb for Freezing
Whether harvesting from your home garden or buying from a grocery store, you can freeze rhubarb for later use.
The edible stalk can be frozen in two ways; in dry pack and syrup pack. It can be frozen raw or after a quick blanching.
You don’t have to blanch rhubarb before freezing it if you plan to use it within 2 to 3 months. However, blanching is highly recommended to preserve the beautiful rosy color, texture, and tangy flavors – especially if you want to freeze it year-round.
No matter which freezing method you choose, it is important to select fresh, young, firm, and tender stalks. Larger stalks are usually more stringy than medium-sized ones. Avoid ones that look wilted, woody, or heavily bruised.
After selecting the right stalks, here are the next steps to prepare rhubarb for freezing.
1. Remove any remaining leafy greens (if any), as they are toxic.
2. Trim off both the top and bottom ends of the stalk.
3. Wash under running water, don’t use soap. Scrub gently with a vegetable brush and get rid of any dirt.
4. Dry them thoroughly and chop them into ½ to 1-inch length or other sizes that work for your favorite recipes. Smaller pieces are perfect for jams, compote, or pie fillings.
5. If you prefer to freeze rhubarb raw, proceed to the packaging step and skip blanching.
6. To blanch, bring a pot of water into a rolling boil and fill a large bowl of cold water and ice for quick cooling.
7. Blanch the chopped stalks in the boiling water for 1 minute.
8. After the time is up, quickly transfer the blanched stalks into the ice bath to stop the cooking process.
9. Let them cool promptly for a few minutes.
10. Drain them off in a colander for packaging.
You can then decide to pack it in a dry pack (nothing else added) or a syrup pack.
How to Freeze Rhubarb In Dry Pack
1. Spread the prepped rhubarb pieces in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined tray. Make sure there is enough space between them, so they will freeze individually.
2. Flash freeze for a few hours until they are solid.
3. Pack them in a freezer bag.
4. Leave as little air as possible and seal the bag tightly.
5. Write the freezing date and the amount.
6. Transfer the package into the freezer.
Freezing Rhubarb In Syrup Pack
1. Prepare 40% syrup by dissolving 2 ¾ cups of sugar in 4 cups of lukewarm water. You can also replace up to ¼ of the sugar with honey or corn syrup.
2. Mix the solution until all sugar dissolves, resulting in a clear solution.
3. Chill the syrup before use.
4. Once the syrup and prepped rhubarb are cool enough, transfer them to a freezer-safe container. It is also possible to pack in a mason jar or glass jar.
5. Make sure each piece is covered in syrup.
6. Leave headspace and seal the container tightly.
7. Label with the freezing date, content, and amount.
8. Transfer to the freezer.
Thawing and Using Frozen Rhubarb
You have three options to thaw frozen rhubarb safely. The go-to option is refrigerator thawing. Simply transfer the frozen package to your refrigerator and let it soften up slowly. If you don’t have much time, thaw it in a cold water bath or microwave and use the thawed product immediately.
After thawing, previously frozen rhubarb is as fantastic as fresh. You can practically use it to substitute a fresh one, such as in the classic strawberry-rhubarb pies, cobbler, muffins, and other baked goods. Or in jams, preserves, and compotes (on its own or mixed with other fruits and berries).
If you’re making jams and compotes, you can add frozen rhubarb directly into the pot – no need to thaw it first.
How Long Can You Refrigerate and Freeze Rhubarb?
Fresh rhubarb retains its freshness for up to 10 to 12 months if prepared and frozen correctly. Unblanched, raw rhubarb is best to use within 2 to 3 months because it doesn’t hold its flavor, texture, and color for long.
As long as it is constantly frozen at 0 °F, it should remain safe to use. However, the beautiful color and tangy flavors will slightly dissipate over time. So, it is best to use it while in its maximum freshness.
Yes. In terms of nutritional contents and usage, the frozen version is as good as a fresh one. Freezing prolongs its shelf life as well as preserves the nutrients. Next to that, it can be used in any recipes calling for fresh rhubarb.
Yes. You can freeze it like other fruit pies. For freezing leftover pie slices, flash freeze them until they are hardened before wrapping them in a double layer of cling wrap. Pack wrapped pies in a freezer bag, seal it tightly, and freeze for up to 3 to 4 months.
Sure, you can! Prepare the filling, as usual, following your favorite recipe. If you make a large batch, measure the filling for one recipe and pack it in a freezer-safe container. Leave headspace and seal it tightly for up to 6 to 8 months. To use, thaw it until it is soft enough to pour into the crust, and bake the pie as usual.
Rhubarb can be frozen raw or blanched, in a dry pack or in a syrup pack. If you plan to freeze it longer than 3 months, it is recommended to blanch the stalk before freezing. Use frozen rhubarb as you normally would with the fresh one. It is wonderful for pies, cobbler, muffins, jams, compote, or preserves!
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