Whether in compotes, galettes or cocktails, rhubarb’s tart taste is hard to resist. And those luscious pink stalks aren’t just for desserts, either. Blend this springtime ingredient into chutney and spread on chicken, chop it up with some cucumber for a tangy salsa, or make it into a jam that will cut through the richness of your cheese platter. This beloved plant is at home on any menu, so we suggest you explore all the mouth-puckering possibilities. But before you get started, here’s the scoop on how to freeze rhubarb so you can reliably have some fresh stalks on hand, even when spring is in the rearview mirror.
How to Freeze Rhubarb
We are happy to report that rhubarb freezes like a dream and will gladly hibernate in your icebox for a full year. Best of all, the process is practically foolproof—just don’t be lazy about blanching or your fruit will lose some of its signature flavor. (Fun fact: Technically, rhubarb is both a fruit and a vegetable.) Follow these steps to reap the ultimate reward from your frozen rhubarb.
1. Set up your blanching station. Fill a large stockpot two thirds full with water, cover with a lid and heat on high until the blanching liquid reaches a rolling boil. Next, get your ice bath ready by filling a large bowl with equal parts ice and cold water. Set the ice bath aside near the sink so you can quickly dunk the rhubarb in it after blanching.
2. Prep the rhubarb. If your rhubarb stalks still have leaves attached, begin by removing them thoroughly. We don’t mean to scare you but we’d be remiss not to mention that rhubarb leaves are highly toxic, so keep them away from your pets and out of your pies. Once you’ve removed every trace of the inedible leafy part of the plant, wash the stalks and start chopping. Trim a little off each end of the stalk to remove any dried bits and then coarsely chop the remaining rhubarb.
3. Blanch and cool. Now your rhubarb is ready for blanching and the stockpot of water should be too. Carefully plop the rhubarb pieces in the boiling water and turn your attention to the clock: The rhubarb should spend only one minute in the blanching water. When the sixty seconds are up, remove the fruits (erm, vegetables) from the water and plunge them straight into your prepared ice bath, swirling them around to speed up the cooling process.
4. Drain and flash freeze. Once the rhubarb pieces are completely cool, drain them into a colander and proceed to spread the pieces out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Transfer the uncovered tray of blanched rhubarb to the freezer and let it sit there for about two hours, or until the pieces are frozen solid.
5. Store the rhubarb. When the pieces are rock hard, remove the tray from the freezer and fill plastic storage bags (or hard-sided containers) with your flash-frozen rhubarb. Remove any excess air from the storage bags before sealing. Place in the back of the freezer and use within a year.
And that’s all there is to it. That frozen rhubarb will continue to provide punchy pleasure from now until its springtime return to a farmers market near you.
4 Rhubarb Recipes to Make with Your Frozen Goods
- Cheater’s mini rhubarb galettes
- Coconut rice pudding with rhubarb compote
- Johnnycakes with rhubarb and sour cherries
- Strawberry rhubarb rosé sangria