It is now March and spring is almost here! That means rhubarb season is right around the corner. But after taking inventory of our freezer, I just realized that we have several bags of frozen rhubarb left from last year’s harvest. If that’s you too, let’s talk all about how to use frozen rhubarb.
Rhubarb along with dandelion and nettle are typically the first foods harvested on our homestead each spring. After primarily eating the food that we had stored and preserved since the previous fall, it is always very exciting to begin harvesting and eating fresh foods once again!
Our rhubarb patch is large and there is no way we can use it all in the short stretch that it is in season—hence the abundance of frozen rhubarb. Thankfully, there are many delicious ways to use up that frozen rhubarb! We share several of our favorites in this video!
What is Rhubarb?
Botanically, rhubarb is technically a vegetable with its stalks and leaves. However, in 1947 a New York court officially declared rhubarb to legally be considered a fruit. That being said, it is generally used culinarily as a fruit cooked up in pies, jams, cakes, crisps, and cobblers.
Rhubarb is generally easy to grow in sunny areas and is a perennial meaning that it will continue to grow year after year. It is very tart and is usually paired with fruit and sugar in cooking to lessen its distinct sour flavor. As we will discuss below with how to use frozen rhubarb, the possibilities for using rhubarb are extensive.
How to Freeze Rhubarb
The beauty of rhubarb is that it freezes very well! Another bonus, most recipes work beautifully with either fresh or frozen rhubarb. Freezing it keeps its flavor, nutrients, and allows you to have the goodness that rhubarb offers all year round.
To Freeze rhubarb simply chop in small chunks (roughly 1/2”). Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. I like to line my baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper to avoid the rhubarb becoming frozen and stuck to the baking sheet.
Then place the baking sheet in the freezer for 3-4 hours until the small pieces are all individually frozen. Place rhubarb in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for long term storage. If you skip this step and place the chopped rhubarb directly in a bag in the freezer, you will end up with a frozen clump of rhubarb. While this will still work fine, a clump of frozen rhubarb is more difficult to portion out and work with when the time comes to pull it out of the freezer.
HOW TO USE FROZEN RHUBARB
Simple Stovetop Rhubarb Sauce or Jam
You can make this simple stovetop sauce or jam by using fresh or frozen rhubarb; either by itself or adding any other fresh or frozen fruit. We like to add any frozen berries we have on hand. Then all you need is something to thicken your sauce. Arrowroot or tapioca starch are our favorite thickeners. If you want a thicker sauce for a jam or pie filling add more thickener. Less thickener will make it runnier and the perfect topping for an ice cream sundae. You could also omit the thickener and just let the sauce thicken on its own when cooking down.
Once the rhubarb is soft and your sauce has reached the desired consistency, remove from heat and add a sweetener to get your desired taste. Honey, maple syrup, or granulated sugar all work. We typically add a couple of tablespoons of honey or maple syrup to our rhubarb sauce.
This video shows a snippet of how we make our rhubarb sauce from frozen rhubarb and berries!
Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal
Soaked and baked oatmeal is staple breakfast around here at least a few times each month. One of the reasons we love it is because of how versatile and easy it is. In the winter months when we are almost exclusively eating frozen fruit, baked oatmeal is a great way to add in a heaping serving of frozen rhubarb along with some berries or ground cherries.
Rhubarb BBQ Sauce
If you are looking for a unique twist on barbecue sauce that uses the goodness of what you’ve preserved, look no further. With a base of tomato sauce and fresh or frozen rhubarb, this tangy yet sweet rhubarb BBQ sauce is perfect to make in those winter months (or for barbecue season!).
Rhubarb Pulled Pork
Another savory recipe to use up frozen rhubarb is to add it in with slow cooked meat. Specifically, we love to throw it in the slow cooker when slow cooking a pork shoulder for pulled pork. Pair the meat with some rhubarb bbq sauce and it is a match made in heaven.
Rhubarb Berry Crisp
This is our staple recipe for gluten free berry crisp. When making it from frozen fruit instead of fresh, I like to prepare my berry filling in advance. Just follow the instructions for the stovetop berry rhubarb sauce above. This will be the filling for your crisp. Top it off with the delicious oat based crisp topping from this recipe. Using frozen rhubarb never tasted so good!
Cooking down rhubarb with a sweetener can also make a delicious syrup perfect for whipping up some unique and delicious beverages. Check out this recipe for a rhubarb mocktail or rhubarb ginger lemonade.
Baked goods are another great way to use up frozen rhubarb! These rhubarb muffins would be a perfect breakfast or snack.
We hope this gives you some inspiration to use up any frozen rhubarb you may have lingering in the back of your freezer before rhubarb season rolls around again!
For more of our favorite ways to preserve the abundance of harvest season, check out: