Rhubarb is a pinkish green veggie and looks more like a colorful version of celery. The tangy tart flavor with a bit of sweetish taste enhances the final mouthfeel of savory as well as sweet treats. Being popular in purees, preserves, condiments, sauces, and desserts, it’s a versatile veggie giving your dish all it needs. But due to various rhubarb myths, people consider that rhubarb did more harm to them after a certain period. So, when not to eat rhubarb?
You may ever hear something like rhubarb become toxic in late summer, so you should avoid eating rhubarb. And for some people, its too much oxalic acid content proves poisonous if consumed.
Well, whether all these facts are real or just myths, let’s find out. Here, we will explore when you should stop eating rhubarb, when it is safe to consume, and is it fine to eat rhubarb leaves. So, move on.
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When Not To Eat Rhubarb?
Rhubarb is good to eat in spring or early summer months, so before late July, to be exact. However, during the late summer months, rhubarb stalks tend to become more fibrous and start to lose their characteristic natural flavor.
But it doesn’t mean rhubarb become dangerous or something poisonous in late summer, just only the leaves are toxic for their higher oxalic acid content.
There are a couple of reasons not to eat rhubarb in late summer:
Firstly, rhubarb stalks tend to become more fibrous or woody, thus lose their crunch and real flavor in late summer.
Secondly, the next crop of rhubarb needs to be replenished to grow further for the next early summer. So, don’t harvest all of the stalks once, let them to grow properly.
Now let’s move towards the peak season of rhubarb and know some real facts about rhubarb leaves.
When Is Rhubarb In Season?
The general harvesting season of rhubarb is late spring or early summer months. In various countries and states, rhubarb is abundantly cultivated in open-air fields. So, you can get this versatile veggie straight into your desserts between May and early July.
Besides the crop of open-air fields, there are hothouses too that produce massive rhubarb. As the hothouses get heat throughout the year, this crop comes in the early summer season. So, these two crops overlap and meet the market demand from late March to mid-July.
Now it’s time to discuss are rhubarb leaves dangerous to eat and if frozen and frosty rhubarb fetal or not.
Are Rhubarb Leaves Poisonous
There are plenty of vegetables containing high oxalate or oxalic acid content. It’s just a defense mechanism of plants, and rhubarb is one of those plants.
Rhubarb leaves are not as much poisonous as these are considered. In fact, one needs to consume a lot of rhubarb leaves to feel sick. Moreover, the reports of rhubarb leaves poisoning are too rare.
Here’s a good thing for you, rhubarb stalks are oxalate free. So, you can eat them and enjoy the real flavor profile. Therefore, it’s best to cut off leaves and avoid them while cooking.
There’s a quite common myth that rhubarb is not good to eat in the late summer months. And there are two good reasons why not to eat rhubarb in late summer.
The most common fact is the unique texture and flavor profile. Rhubarb gets a woody texture after its peak season or middle summer, to be exact.
And another reason is again a myth and typical old wives that the poisonous oxalic acid creaks down into stalks.
Read Also: Are Celery Leaves Poisonous?
The first is pretty much true, and you may also notice a bit odd, fibrous, and bland flavor of rhubarb.
But the second one is totally ridiculous old saying having no scientific evidence. But a little thing to be noticed is that frost cause the rhubarb leaves wilt and stalks to be limp. Such frost-touched rhubarb is not good at all, so discard it.
Probably it could be a reason why not to eat rhubarb after mid-summer. So, when not to eat rhubarb, it’s late summer.
Is Frozen Rhubarb Toxic To Eat
People usually mix up things about frozen and frosted rhubarb. They consider both terms the same, but they are different. So, let’s differentiate between them.
Frozen rhubarb is a freshly harvested crop of early summer having crunchy yet juicy stalks without poisonous leaves.
Frozen rhubarb is easily available in the frozen food section of superstores and markets. But you can also freeze rhubarb on your own by chopping stalks, put them in freezer-safe bags, and transfer to the freezer for later use.
This frozen rhubarb is safe to eat for up to 6 or more months. There’s no harm in consuming them, so don’t worry much about that.
On the other hand, frosted rhubarb is totally different than frozen. It’s an unharvested rhubarb that is still in the soil and experience frost for the first time. Consequently, the rhubarb stalks tend to be limp, leaves wilt, and there’s may be leaf discoloration.
Such frosted rhubarb is not good to eat as it’s too bland and pucker to taste with a fibrous texture. But even in such a crisis, oxalic acid doesn’t seep from leaves to stalks.
I am sure you will definitely catch your answer. So, feel free to use frozen rhubarb in your desserts, smoothies, pies, and savory treats.
Read Also: Can You Freeze Celery For Later Use?
How To Tell If Rhubarb Is Bad
Like other vegetables and fruits, rhubarb has a certain life span, after which it starts to go bad and spoil. Avoid using bad rhubarb mistakenly in your favorite recipes, as it could be dangerous or just out of flavor.
There are few ways to tell if rhubarb go bad or spoil, let’s explore them.
The juicy rhubarb stalks, more often its lower ends, are susceptible for easy mold growth. So, if you find any mold appearance and either white, black, or green specs, be careful at that time.
You can use rhubarb after cutting off affected ends, but if molds spoil the entire stalks, it’s time to discard them.
The second thing is texture. Whenever you find the soft rhubarb stalks, it’s a good sign they have gone bad. Mostly, rhubarb stalks are juicy but stiff enough to break easily. So, you should avoid soft mushy stalks when buying.
A bad and little bit sour smell is another sign that rhubarb is not good anymore. More often, rhubarb stalks do not smell strong when fresh as the smell is more like herbs.
You can also tell if rhubarb is bad by checking its outer skin tone. The black or brown strips are real indication that rhubarb isn’t fresh to eat. The fresh rhubarb stalks are pinkish green with a nice luster.
So, be careful next time if you looking for fresh and juicy rhubarb for your favorite food.
So, When Not To Eat Rhubarb!
As you notice in this article when and why not to eat rhubarb. It’s best to eat rhubarb in the early summer months, but it doesn’t mean rhubarb become poisonous after mid-summer. As it’s only the matter of natural flavor and watery texture of rhubarb that go great in the peak season.
Rhubarb leaves are not as much dangerous as you think because they have a higher oxalate content, but you can still consume. So, don’t bound yourself for old wives and myths. Instead, enjoy yourself and explore new flavors that suit you.