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Rhubarb is a relative of buckwheat. Botanically speaking, rhubarb is considered a vegetable, but it’s most often treated as a fruit — though it’s rarely eaten raw… until now! Just like fresh cranberries, rhubarb is almost unbearably tart on its own and needs some sort of sweetener to balance out the acidity.
When selecting rhubarb look for fresh stalks are flat, not curled or limp. If possible, select stalks that have been pulled from the plant, not cut. Pulled stalks dry out less rapidly. Don’t get caught up in size. It isn’t an indicator of tenderness. Instead aim for rhubarb that has a deep red color as it is sweeter and richer.
Wrap rhubarb in plastic wrap and store it in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to one week. But before you do, cut off and discard any leaves and rinse. Some people like to peel the skin before preparation but this is not necessary. Remember to cook only in non-aluminum pots, this is due to the acidic nature of rhubarb.
Never eat rhubarb leaves, cooked or raw. Eating the leaves can be poisonous because they contain oxalate. This toxin, plus another toxin also found in the leaves, has been reported to cause poisoning when large quantities of raw or cooked leaves are ingested.