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Locally Plentiful Rhubarb is Diverse and Controversial

Abundant in our area, rhubarb can be used in many different ways - as a refreshing beverage, a tangy side dish, or as a scrumptious dessert. But, is it a vegetable or a fruit?

Every year, the Schnecksville Fair hosts a “Refreshing Rhubarb Competition.” Since we have an abundance of rhubarb on our property, my husband puts his skills to the test and attempts to win the blue ribbon.

He has yet to claim the title of “Best Refreshing Rhubarb Recipe” but it’s always fun to see the variety of entries. It also gains him free admission to the fair, which is usually his main goal.

What's your favorite rhubarb recipe?

What exactly is rhubarb? It's reminiscent of a celery stalk, though reddish in color and much larger and thicker. The leaves are poisonous and not edible but can grow to be the size of elephant ears!

Oddly, rhubarb is most often considered a vegetable, however, according to Wikipedia, "in the United States, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties. A side effect was a reduction on imported rhubarb tariffs, as tariffs were higher for vegetables than fruits."

How interesting!

Rhubarb might be going out of season soon, but I’m sure there are some of you who have a supply in the freezer, ready to carry you through the winter months.

Here are some interesting ideas for easy and unique recipes that will keep your taste buds happy with that tangy, summer sweetness for which rhubarb is famous.

Prevention.com had some mouth-watering ideas, so I thought I’d share!

Rhubarb Sparkler

  • Pour 1/4 cup Citrus-Cooked Rhubarb Syrup (find the recipe here) into a glass and top off with Prosecco or seltzer.

Rhubarb Chutney

  • Combine 1 chopped red bell pepper, 1 large chopped shallot, 1/2 cup honey, 1/4 cup each golden raisins and cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon each minced ginger and garlic, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and red-pepper flakes in saucepan.
  • Simmer 5 minutes.
  • Add 1 lb. coarsely chopped rhubarb (3 1/4 cups) and cook until starting to fall apart, about 2 minutes.
  • Transfer to bowl and let cool.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Stir in 1/2 cup chopped cilantro. (Makes 4 cups.)
  • Serve with grilled chicken.

Rhubarb “Ice Cream” Sandwiches

  • Fold 1 cup Citrus-Cooked Rhubarb (see recipe here) into 1 cup softened vanilla frozen yogurt until well combined.
  • Freeze until firm enough to scoop.
  • Divide among 12 chocolate wafer cookies to make 6 sandwiches.  

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