What’s for Dinner? Rhubarb Rhubarb Everywhere …

Posted on June 23, 2023

Rhubarb. Anyone with a plant in their yard knows this is not a food to be trifled with. At one of Green Calgary’s last rain barrel sales, a volunteer asked the rest of us if we knew any rhubarb recipes because she had a lot of rhubarb to contend with and didn’t know what to do with it all. A Green Calgary staff member gives her first harvest to a senior's residence every year (and has for about 15 years) because there is no shortage of where it came from. They are not alone. Every year I see friends asking, no begging, people to come and take rhubarb from their yard. So, what can one do with an abundance of rhubarb without eating rhubarb for weeks on end? I asked my mom, a long-time rhubarb lover, what her go-to recipes are and have shared the simplest ones, here. Rhubarb is typically ready to harvest in late spring and when it is ready, it is ready. It’s best not left until the hot part of summer, as it doesn’t fair well once it gets too hot. This means that once it’s ready, you must be too.  

First, let’s cover some basics for the new rhubarbians on the block: Rhubarb is a perennial that will grow back bigger each year with very little help from you. Don’t eat the leaves. The leaves are poisonous and can make you sick, so stick to the stalks for consumption. For some ideas on what to do with the leaves, check out this website. To harvest, it is best to pick the stalks instead of cutting them. Reach to the base of the stalk, twist, and pull. Stalks are ready to harvest when they are 10-15 inches long and firm.  

Freezing: If you are not in the mood to spend a weekend baking away, but don’t want to waste the rhubarb in your yard, you can harvest and freeze for a later date. Cut rhubarb to about ½ inch to 1-inch pieces and lay flat on a cookie sheet or pan. Put in the freezer until frozen and then transfer to freezer bags or containers. By freezing the pieces separately, they won’t freeze stuck together and it will be easier to use only what you need in the future.  

Eat it Raw: When my mom was a kid, they would often eat raw rhubarb, dipped in white sugar to sweeten it up a bit. It was a favourite springtime snack, and required no extra work.  

Rhubarb (and strawberry) Crisp: 

My mom has been making this since I was a kid (and before). Another one of her favourites. Cook it immediately or freeze it to enjoy later in the summer. 


4 cups diced rhubarb 

1/2 cup cut strawberries (optional) 

2 tbs sugar 

1/2 Cup butter 

2/3 Cup Brown Sugar 

1 1/3 cup rolled oats 

3 ¼ tbs corn starch or flour 


In a 2 litre glass Pyrex (or equivalent) dish, preferably with a lid to keep moist, add 4 cups diced rhubarb and 1/2 cup cut strawberries (optional). Sprinkle 2 tbs sugar over the rhubarb 

In a separate bowl cream together 1/2cup butter and 2/3 cup brown sugar. Then stir in 1 1/3 cup rolled oats and 3 ¼ tbs corn starch or flour until crumbly.  

Sprinkle over rubarb (and strawberry) in pan 

Bake at 350F for about 30-40 mins until rhubarb is bubbly and soft.  


Ice-Cream Topping (or a topping for anything you desire a topping for): 

Mix 2-3 cups of diced rhubarb with ¼ -½ cup water (just enough to keep it from drying out) and cook until soft. Add sugar to taste and use as a topping on ice cream. Yum 

Make a Smoothie: 


1 ½ cup rhubarb (fresh or frozen) 

1 ½ cup strawberries (fresh or frozen) 

1 ½ cups milk or milk substitute 

2/3 cups pomegranate juice 

1 cup ice (optional) 

Blend ingredients together until smooth and enjoy a refreshing summer drink.  

For even more recipes, I found this website that shares 30 different recipes for rhubarb. At this rate, you'll be asking your neighbours to harvest their rhubarb, too!

Happy rhubarb season!!