Can you freeze rhubarb? While rhubarb is usually used right away for making delicious treats, you can harvest the stalks and freeze them so you can use them whenever you desire to.
Rhubarb is an herbaceous perennial that grows up in short thick rhizomes, which are useful for making pies, jams, jellies, and sauces. The rosy red stalks of rhubarb are harvested in late spring and early summer.
Do note that if rhubarb is frozen past a year, it can change in flavor and texture. The flavor will be a bit more watery and the texture slightly mushy. However, using it up within the year should not change the flavor or texture. In fact, it will still have its tart-sweet flavor and a bit of crispness, which is perfect for strawberry rhubarb pies.
Did you know that there are different ways to prepare rhubarb for long storage? Below are some of the most common ways on how can you freeze rhubarb:
Flash-Freezing Rhubarb For Freezing
The best way to freeze rhubarb is by first washing the stalks well with cool water to remove any dirt from them. After, you can cut any bad spots off the stalks, chop them up into pieces and blanch them in a large pot of boiling water for around a minute.
Next, you strain the water from the stalks and place the stalks into an ice-cold bath of water with ice cubes to help stop the cooking process. Then, you strain the water from the stalks again and dry them off with paper towels.
Then, place the stalks into freezer bags and containers and store them away in the freezer for up to a year. When you want to use the rhubarb, simply take it out of the freezer and begin cooking with it. You do not need to wait until it defrosts.
Image used under Creative Commons from Whitney
Preserving the Rhubarb in Sugar For Freezing
Another way you can freeze rhubarb is by following the same steps for blanching, cooling, and drying as mentioned above.
However, instead of packing the stocks up after into sealable bags you can place the rhubarb pieces into freezer containers with a tablespoon of sugar to help add a bit of sweetness to the stalks and to help preserve them a bit easier.
After, you can freeze the sweetened pieces of rhubarb in the freezer for up to a year. However, frozen sweeten rhubarb is best for making jams, jellies, and pies and not good in any kind of diabetic desserts.
Blanching Rhubarb Prior to Freezing
You can also keep rhubarb stalks whole and blanch them in a large pot of boiling water for 2-minutes, cool them in an ice bath afterward, towel dry them off and place the large stalks in a gallon size freezer bag and store them in the freezer this way if you prefer. However, they will be a bit more difficult to cut up when frozen, which will make them difficult to use.
Whenever you are defrosting rhubarb, avoid doing it by leaving it in the refrigerator or countertop because the stalks will become mushy and watery.
Always take them from the freezer and use them right away for making rhubarb dishes in order to retain their sweet and tart rhubarb flavor and texture. Remember, frozen rhubarb is always best if it is used up within the year it has been frozen in.
Rhubarb is quite a hardy vegetable so it will keep well in the freezer. Now that you know how can you freeze rhubarb, you can finally extend the shelf life of your supply for future uses!