Rhubarb is a hardy perennial plant, indigenous to the mountains in China. Who knew?
So this year I decided to venture into “rhubarb”. I had never worked with, nor planted rhubarb before here at my New Jersey home. To me, the name sounded like some odd looking plant growing in a huge Idaho field that I would probably never see in my lifetime. I know I’ve never seen it at the store. But one day this spring, some fresh smelling day in May when I was anxiously awaiting all of the fresh veggies and flowers to show their gracious selves outside in the open air garden centers, I stopped at Home Depot. As I walked down the gardening isle, I saw bag filled with dirt and some unknown “other” debris with a tag on it that said, “rhubarb”. What did I have to loose? So I picked it up and gave it a whirl. It’s always a real bonus when something is perennial, because that means that every year, it will come up again and again, sharing it’s beauty, taste and nutrition with you.
Here is the dictionary definition of rhubarb:
Medicinal? not surprised. What naturally grown thing isn’t in some way..
Astringent – perhaps over the next few days I will be making a skin tonic. I will post soon.
A quarrel or squabble? Perhaps the next time my husband gets moody I’ll just tell him, ” Stop being so rhubarb!”
I’m sure that will shut him up :D. ( well on second thought, maybe for only about five minutes until his Gemini nature kicks back in).
So far, I’ve made two wonderful recipes with my rhubarb: All natural jam and Mock lemon chicken soup ( I simply used two stalks of rhubarb in the soup and it gave a nice, lemony, sour flavor)
August Harvest Strawberry Rhubarb Jam with Natural Honey
1 pound of strawberries ( the large plastic container) if you haven’t grown them, quartered
4 1/2 stalks of freshly snipped rhubarb, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups of honey
1 6oz package of liquid pectin
Place rhubarb, strawberries, cinnamon and fruit pectin into a large pot over medium heat. Stir the fruit mixture to help the juice start to form, and add the honey, stirring constantly until everything is mixed. Turn up heat to medium-high, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, and then place on simmer with the top on. This mixture should be looking like a sauce within no more than ten minutes. Just keep an eye and take the heat off when it looks like the consistency you want has been reached.
Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Take out the jars and gently pour the warm mixture into the jars. It’s possible that the jars will seal just by the heated jelly alone, but to be sure you can place the jars into a 425 degree oven on a cookie sheet for about ten minutes, or submerse the jars into boiling water for a few minutes.
Rhubarb has medicinal properties too. But doesn’t every natural thing heal you in some way? That’s why going natural is better!
Rhubarb as a laxative – in addition to rhizomes, rhubarb contains compounds known as anthraquinoones. These compounds stimulate gastrointestinal peristalsis and are found in commercial laxatives. Rhubarb also contains tannins, which further enhance colonic motility while providing antibacterial effects. Click here for more information
Aphid and caterpillar deterrent: Boil up those huge rhubarb leaves, let cool, add a dash of liquid soap and spray onto your garden plants. Notice there aren’t any holes in the rhubarb leaves. Too sour!
Health benefits of Rhubarb
- Rhubarb is one of the least calorie vegetables. 100 g fresh petioles carry just 21 calories. Nonetheless, it holds some vital phyto-nutrients such as dietary fiber, poly-phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Further, its petioles contain no saturated fats or cholesterol.
- The stalks are rich in several B-complex vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid.
- Red color stalks carry more vitamin-A than in the green varieties. Further, the stalks also contain small amounts of poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds like ß-carotene, zea xanthin, and lutein. These compounds convert into vitamin A inside the human body and deliver same protective effects of vitamin A. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant which is required by the body for maintaining integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for healthy eye-sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A may help protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- As in other greens like kale, spinach, etc., rhubarb stalks too provide good amounts of vitamin-K. 100 g of fresh stalks provide 29.3 µg or about 24% of daily recommended intake of this vitamin. Vitamin K has a potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Its stalks also contain healthy levels of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. However, most of these minerals do not absorb into the body as they undergo chelation into insoluble complexes by oxalic acid, which then excreted out.
The leaves of this plant are poisonous and should not be used internally. May aggravate gout and arthritis conditions.