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Botanical name: Rheum rhabarbarum



As early as 5000 years ago, rhubarb was used as a healing remedy by the Chinese. This 'medicinal' rhubarb was the origin of our rhubarb today. In the 18th century it reached the countries of the Mediterranean by way of Russia and Persia. From there it spread step by step throughout Europe. Rhubarb is grown today in all temperate zones.


Rhubarb is available from January to July. From April to June it is particularly plentiful, and domestic produce can be bought in this period.

Appearance, taste, characteristics

In many cookery books, rhubarb is considered a fruit, but it is actually a vegetable, as the stalks are eaten, and not the fruit of the plant. The stalks are up to 60 cm long, firm and thick. At the ends of the stalks are large leaves with curly edges. Rhubarb is differentiated according to the colour of the skin and the pulp into varieties with green stalks and green pulp, red stalks and green pulp, or red stalks and red pulp. Rhubarb tastes pleasantly fruity and tart.

The varieties of rhubarb used for medical purposes are Rheum officinale and Rheum palmatum L. and R., as well as Chinese, Turkish and Cantonese rhubarb.


The tartness of rhubarb points to the high acidity of this vegetable.

100 g contain:

Energie (kcal)
Wasser (g)
Eiweiß (g)
Fett (g)
< 1
Kohlenhydrate (g)
Ballaststoffe (g)
Vitamin C (mg)
Vitamin A (RÄ) (µg)
Folsäure (µg)
Kalium (mg)
Natrium (mg)
Calcium (mg)
Magnesium (mg)
Eisen (mg)

Harmful substances

At 1000–4000 mg per kilogram, the nitrate content of rhubarb can be quite high, likewise the oxalic acid content at up to 800 mg per 100 g.

Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

When rhubarb is sold with leaves, you should make sure that the leaves are fresh. The cut edges should also not appear dried out. Wrapped in a moist cloth, rhubarb will keep for some days in the refrigerator.

Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Rhubarb leaves are toxic and inedible. Rhubarb stalks are normally eaten cooked, but they can be eaten raw in small amounts. If they are being cooked, they do not need to be peeled; it is sufficient to wash them thoroughly and to remove both ends. Cut the rhubarb into small pieces and simmer for 6–10 minutes. Then it can be further prepared as compote, jam, ice cream, desserts or as a topping for pies or cakes. It is especially popular when combined with strawberries or oranges. Rhubarb juice and even rhubarb wine are offered for sale as well. A large portion of the rhubarb harvested is sold industrially as preserves in jars. Raw or cooked rhubarb can easily be deep-frozen, and this increases the length of time it can be kept. Rhubarb roots can be processed as a tea, or an infusion.

Seasoning tip

Vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and lemon juice are all good additions to rhubarb.





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