RHUBARB IS ONE OF THE FIRST VEGETABLES TO HERALD THE ARRIVAL OF THE HARVEST SEASON IN SPRING
Yes, you read that right, it is a vegetable and not a fruit as you might have thought. Even though rhubarb is cooked like a fruit, it officially counts as a vegetable. The fleshy, edible stalks are highly valued for its unique sweet-sour flavor inherent in its stalks that can range in color from deep red to light pink, and even pale green. From April on, you can enjoy the early varieties that last until July, after that, the plant needs a rest period to regenerate and recover for the next harvest. The longer it is left to harvest, increases the acidity as the temperature rises in summer. The fact is that rhubarb contains a high amount of oxalic acid, which is particularly found in the leaves of the plant, and as much as 100 g contains 460 mg of this acid. A neglible and harmless amount can also be found in spinach, broccoli and cauliflower. Oxalic acid is also formed in the human metabolism itself, but too much of it can cause gastrointestinal problems.
Rhubarb is an exceptional plant of species and hybrids of Rheum in the family Polygonaceae. This sprawling plant, which can grow up to 2 m tall, looks different from other vegetables in every way. It has very large, round to oval and wavy curled leaves and has long, thick, juicy stems. In the USA, rhubarb was classified as a fruit in 1947, probably because at that time, the reason was the lower import tax of 35% in contrast to vegetables with 50%.
There are different types of rhubarb, each with different characteristics in terms of appearance and taste. The nuances range from a mild taste at the beginning of the harvest season and going to extremely sour and tart. In simplified terms, it can be divided into three different variants. The green rhubarb with a green skin and green flesh forms numerous flower stalks and guarantees a high yield. It tastes mildly sour and must be peeled before cooking. The variety with a reddish skin and green flesh is significantly milder. Red rhubarb with a red stalk and red flesh tastes the sweetest and contains less oxalic acid. When properly prepared, the vegetable is completely safe for healthy people, only people who suffer from kidney disease, arthritis or gout should generally avoid rhubarb.
Read the full article in Issue 17