Can You Eat Rhubarb Raw? The Truth About This Tart Veggie

If you’re looking for a unique ingredient to add to your kitchen, rhubarb may be just what you need! Rhubarb is a versatile plant that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. In this article, we’ll explore what rhubarb is and its different culinary uses.

So, what exactly is rhubarb? Rhubarb is a vegetable that’s often used as a fruit due to its tart flavor. The edible part of the plant is the stalks, which are red or green and similar in appearance to celery.

But can you eat rhubarb raw? While it’s not recommended to consume raw rhubarb due to its high amounts of oxalic acid, which can be harmful if ingested excessively, there are ways to safely incorporate it into your meals!

Cooking with rhubarb is where this ingredient truly shines. From pies and jams to savory sauces and stews, there are countless recipes that showcase the unique taste of this vegetable.

Finally, we’ll also dive into other surprising uses for rhubarb beyond cooking. Interested? Keep reading!

What is Rhubarb?

Rhubarb is a plant that has been used for medicinal and culinary purposes for centuries. It is a vegetable but often consumed as a fruit due to its tart flavor. The most commonly harvested part of the rhubarb plant are its stalks, which are long and reddish-green in color.

History of Rhubarb

Rhubarb’s origins can be traced back to China, where it was first cultivated for its medicinal properties over 5, 000 years ago. During the Middle Ages, rhubarb made its way to Europe on trade routes and became popular for treating ailments such as constipation and fever.

In the 18th century, rhubarb began to be used in culinary dishes, with sugar being added to balance out its naturally sour taste. By the 19th century, it had become an important ingredient in many desserts and baked goods across Europe and North America.

Nutritional Value of Rhubarb

  • Rhubarb is low in calories: One cup of diced rhubarb contains only 26 calories.
  • The plant has high amounts of fiber: Rhubarb stalks are a good source of dietary fiber, which can help improve digestion and decrease cholesterol levels.
  • Rhubarb contains key vitamins: The vegetable provides vitamin C (for immune function) and vitamin K (blood clotting)
  • Few other nutrients: Apart from fiber, vitamin C, K – limited amount of potassium, magnesium available in smaller quantities.
  • Noteable presence: anthocyanins like Myricetin are present which helps have preventive effects on chronic diseases.

All in all rhubarb is a healthy addition to any diet, and its unique flavor profile makes it an interesting ingredient to experiment with in different recipes.

Can You Eat Rhubarb Raw?

If you’re a fan of rhubarb, you might be wondering whether it’s safe to eat raw. While rhubarb is typically cooked before consumption, there are potential health benefits to eating it raw as well.

Potential Health Benefits of Raw Rhubarb

  • Good source of fiber: One cup of raw rhubarb contains around 2. 2 grams of fiber, which can help keep your digestive system healthy and promote feelings of fullness.
  • Contains vitamins and minerals: Raw rhubarb is rich in vitamins K and C, along with calcium and potassium. These nutrients can support bone health, immune function, and more.
  • May have anti-inflammatory effects: Some research suggests that compounds in rhubarb may have anti-inflammatory properties that could benefit people dealing with conditions like arthritis or heart disease.

Risks of Eating Raw Rhubarb

While consuming raw rhubarb can have potential benefits, it’s important to be aware of the risks as well. For example:

  • Rhubarb leaves contain toxic compounds called oxalates. Ingesting large amounts can lead to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and kidney damage.
  • Eating excessive amounts of the stalks themselves can also cause issues like diarrhea or stomach pain due to their high levels of oxalic acid.

Tips for Safely Consuming Raw Rhubarb

If you decide to try incorporating raw rhubarb into your diet, these tips can help make sure you do so safely:

  • Avoid the leaves entirely; stick exclusively with the stalks to avoid the toxic oxalates.
  • Limit your consumption to small amounts, especially if you have a history of kidney stones or other similar issues.
  • Consider pairing the tart flavor with sweeter fruits like strawberries or apples to cut down on any potential bitterness.

Overall, while raw rhubarb can offer several health benefits, it’s essential to be cautious and follow safe preparation practices in order to minimize any risks associated with its consumption.

Cooking with Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a versatile vegetable that can be cooked using a variety of methods. These include:


  • Boiling rhubarb is one of the most popular cooking methods. It involves adding chopped rhubarb to boiling water for about 10 minutes until it becomes soft enough to eat.
  • You can also add sugar, cinnamon, or other spices to taste and enhance the flavor while boiling.


  • Rhubarb can also be baked in pies, tarts, or crumbles. Simply chop rhubarb into small pieces and layer it with sugar and your favorite pastry dough or breadcrumbs.
  • Bake the dish at 375°F (190°C) for around 30-40 minutes until the top turns golden brown.


  • If you’re looking for a unique way to cook rhubarb, try grilling it! Brush sliced rhubarb with olive oil and grill over high heat for about two minutes on each side.
  • The heat caramelizes its natural sugars leaving behind a smoky-tart fusion that’s perfect as an accompaniment to grilled meats like chicken or pork.

Cooking tenderizes the fibers in raw Rhubarbs besides bringing out exciting flavors during preparation. Thus there exist occasional differences between raw and cooked Rhubarbs’ nutritional value studies suggest.

Nutritional Differences between Raw and Cooked Rhubarb

A study published on PubMed Central found that cooking has only minimal effects on the total antioxidant capacity of fresh Rhubarbs; however, Vitamin C loss was noted after heating raw Rhubarbs. Therefore, Raw Rhubarb in terms of vitamin C concentration contains more than C cooked Rhubarb.

However, cooking softens the sheets and allows for enzymes inside to release Antioxidants known as polyphenols. In addition to that, these antioxidants have essential property roles in reducing inflammation levels besides aiding metabolic functions.

In conclusion, rhubarb is a delicious and nutritious vegetable that can be cooked using various methods. From boiling it to grilling or baking with pies; there are plenty of recipes available online that you can try today!

Other Uses for Rhubarb

While rhubarb is most commonly known for its use as a pie ingredient, there are many other uses for this versatile plant. Here are just a few:

Medicinal Uses of Rhubarb

  • Rhubarb has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat constipation, diarrhea, and other digestive issues.
  • Some studies have suggested that rhubarb may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • The roots of the rhubarb plant can be used to make a tea that some people believe can help with detoxification.

Gardening and Landscaping with Rhubarb

  • Rhubarb plants are hardy perennials that can add visual interest to your garden or landscape.
  • The large leaves of the rhubarb plant can be used to create natural mulch or compost when they fall off.
  • Rhubarb plants also produce vibrant red stalks in the spring and summer, adding color to your yard or garden.

Unique Ways to Use Rhubarb in Cooking and Baking

  • Rhubarb can be pickled like cucumbers for a tangy snack or an addition to salads or sandwiches.
  • Rhubarb can also be roasted with honey and spices for a sweet and savory side dish.
  • In addition to pies, rhubarb can be used in cakes, muffins, jams, sauces, and more!


In conclusion, next time you want an unusual addition for your recipes or diets with its low carb value without losing flavorful dishes, consider giving rhubarb a try! Just remember to avoid eating it raw.


Can I freeze fresh rhubarb?

Absolutely! Fresh chopped up Rhurbar can last at least six months when frozen correctly.

Is all parts of the Rhurbab toxic?

While only technically toxic when consumed excessively in large quantities however leaves on top contain significantly higher levels of oxalic acid compared with stems making them unsuitable for consumption

Can I grow my own rhurbarbs at home?

Absolutely! With minimum care necessary during planting process they tend out well even by beginner gardeners.

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