Rhubarb grows like a weed around here. It seems like if you don’t have a patch of it yourself, you know six people who do. It’s kind of like zucchini: everyone is trying to get rid of it and nobody wants to waste it. That’s why I think it’s an essential skill to know how to freeze rhubarb.
I’ll start with a few tips before I dive right in on how to freeze rhubarb. You will want to make sure that you harvest your rhubarb in early spring when it is in the best condition. This is usually before all the bugs get the rhubarb and summer heat toughens the stalks.
You will also want to make sure you have freezer space to put your big cookie sheets for a few hours.
How to Freeze Rhubarb
First, harvest your rhubarb stalks and cut off the leaves outside. Once inside, trim off the bottom section and wash the whole stalk under cold water. While you’re washing the rhubarb, check it for bites, bugs and any other blemishes that you want to cut out. After it is washed, put it on a towel or in the draining rack to dry off a bit.
Next, it’s time to chop the rhubarb. With the larger stalks I prefer to slice it down
the middle so that I don’t end up with huge chunks of rhubarb in my recipes. It’s something my mother always did and I like to continue to do.
Proceed to chop all the rhubarb into smaller chunks that will be perfect for any recipe. My brother went to school to be a chef and taught me to chop with my fingers tucked under like in this picture. It is more difficult to severely cut your knuckles than your fingertips!
As you’re chopping the rhubarb, throw it on cookie sheets, spreading it one layer thick. After all the rhubarb is chopped and on cookie sheets, place the cookie sheets in the freezer. There is no need to cover these because they will only be in there a few hours or a day.
After the rhubarb has frozen through on the cookie sheets remove it from the freezer one pan at a time and package it. I prefer to package my rhubarb in old sour cream and yogurt containers that I’ve washed out and saved.
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If you prefer, you can package your rhubarb in quart-size freezer bags. Most rhubarb recipes call for 4 cups of rhubarb so this is the perfect size. Because I have a small family I choose to package mine in two-cup portions because I cut most recipes in half. The great thing about disposable freezer containers is I can write the year and contents directly on the lid. If you are freezing in reusable freezer containers, label them with masking tape and permanent marker.
Now that you have learned how to freeze rhubarb you are ready for any recipe – winter or summer. Rhubarb is something I know I always have on hand. It is so affordable yet adds beautiful color and flavor to baked goods. One thing I love to do is make quick bread at Christmas time for gifts or to bring to parties. Or check out these amazing Rhubarb-Honey Crumb Bars from Jami at An Oregon Cottage!
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Now that you see how easy it is to freeze rhubarb, get chopping!