Rhubarb is an herbaceous, perennial plant that produces thick green leaves and reddish-pink fleshy stalks. The leaves are poisonous so it is only the stalks that are used for cooking and consumption. The stalks are crisp and similar to celery but have a strong, tart taste. They are usually cooked in sweet dishes, often in pies, crumbles and other desserts, and pair well with apples and ginger. Natural sugar levels in rhubarb are low, hence why they are often sweetened with sugar and used in such dishes. Rhubarb was originally classified as a vegetable but was later categorised as a fruit, considering it is usually prepared and served as such.
In Australia, rhubarb is available all year round, with its peak period being from May to August. When buying rhubarb, look for bunches that have glossy, crisp, bright red stalks. The deeper the colour, the sweeter it will be. Remove and discard the leaves and snip the base before cooking.
Rhubarb can be found at Alnda Farms, Doo Bee Honey, W&B Hart and Otherwood Orchards at the Showground Farmers’ Market. Salad Green and Kitchen Herbs also sell rhubarb at both the Showground Farmers’ Market and Prospect Farmers’ Market.