Rheum rhabarbarum. What we call rhubarb.
It is the thing of which pie makers dream about. They love paring of this tart vegetable – although for legal purposes is it considered a fruit – with berries – especially one with the name “straw” in them.
Rhubarb is not available year round, at least in it’s fresh form. So one needs to know when can I get it and you might also want to know where it is grown.
Difference Between Hothouse and Field Grown Rhubarb
First you need to know that there are two ways rhubarb is grown – in greenhouses or in the field.
The hot house grown rhubarb shows up earlier in the year, naturally (or not naturally if it’s grown indoors?). I usually see it in the very early spring or even as early as late winter.
Since rhubarb sales go up quite a deal in the presence of strawberries, when strawberries prices deep as they tend to do in March, you will naturally find more hothouse rhubarb available.
Hothouse rhubarb is usually more uniformly red in color. Some say it’s sweet and more tender too.
When is Rhubarb in Season?
|Hot House/Greenhouse Grown Rhubarb||late winter to early spring|
|Field Grown Rhubarb||early to mid spring to early summer|
Most of the field grown rhubarb that is sold in the U.S. is from the Northern U.S., particularly Oregon and Washington. They are well suited to rhubarb production.
The first field grown rhubarb typically shows up in late March to early April. Around this time the hothouse grown rhubarb is done, so their seasons may just barely overlap.
The season tends to slow down in the summer time, as the heat turns up. Rhubarb doesn’t grow as well in the heat. You should see how pathetic my rhubarb plants look in August!
However, you may still see it into the summer as rhubarb does store well. You can freeze rhubarb as well for later use.
During the fall, you will be hard pressed to find it. I can’t recall ever seeing it. I don’t think there is much imported rhubarb, outside of maybe from Canada.
Where to Get Rhubarb
If you leave in a northern state you should be able to find it locally. Check your local farmer’s market in mid to late spring. Here in Michigan it lasts into June.
Most grocery stores will carry rhubarb for at least some portion of the season. Depending on the store you will either find it whole or cut for you and packaged.
Freeze Rhubarb for the Holidays
If you are making a pie for Thanksgiving or Christmas and want to use rhubarb, you probably have to look in the frozen department.
You could always freeze some extra when in season to have for your holiday celebrations. I recommend doing it in bite sized pieces. Then wrap the whole thing in foil and put into a freezer bag. I find that the foil will help prevent freezer burn.
Grow Rhubarb Yourself
Rhubarb is easy to grow yourself, depending on where you live. Those in the North can easily grow it. I never put much attention into my rhubarb plants and they come back year after year.
I got my rhubarb plants from a friend who just quickly dug a spot when I wasn’t home and planted them there.
If you live in the South, it will be more challenging. Your best plant transplants in fall, and harvest your stalks through the winter months. When the heat gets going, the plants will die off and you have to plant anew.
My Favorite Rhubarb Recipes
I have a couple rhubarb recipes on the blog that you can check out.
Where do you like to buy rhubarb? Leave a comment below.