Do You Have To Peel Fresh Rhubarb?

When you think of rhubarb, it's likely that you are reminded of the classic strawberry-rhubarb pie. Its nickname is even "pie plant" because of its association with pie (per Food Network). Because of its tart flavor, rhubarb is often paired with sweet strawberries. Food Network notes that the British pair it with spicy ginger. But don't overlook the pink celery-like stalk when you are cooking savory dishes. It can be a wonderful addition to a salad or even shrimp fried rice.

You'll most likely see rhubarb at the farmer's market or in your local grocery store during the spring. This vegetable (which is part of the buckwheat family) reaches peak season between April and June, per Better Homes and Gardens. However, cooking with rhubarb might seem a little intimidating, especially when you think about its poisonous leaves. So you might have some questions before you prepare it, like what do you need in order to peel fresh rhubarb?

Preparation of fresh rhubarb

The preparation of rhubarb starts with cutting off the tops and bottoms of the stalks, Better Homes and Gardens explains. You should also throw out any parts of the stalks that have bruises. Whether you need to peel fresh rhubarb or not depends on when you buy it. If you buy it during the peak season (April to June), peeling isn't necessary. But after peak season, the stalks can be tough, and peeling with a small and sharp knife might be necessary to help make it more palatable (via BBC Good Food).

The leaves are poisonous, so you will need to throw them away. Though stalk is perfectly safe to eat, according to Spruce Eats, the leaves contain a high concentration of oxalic acid. Some vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower also contain the acid but at a much lower level, which makes them safe to eat. But don't worry — it would take a large number of rhubarb leaves to achieve a lethal dose. A small amount would just probably make you vomit. So next time you see fresh rhubarb, don't be intimidated. You can use it to make a delicious pie or even a simple syrup to spice up your next cocktail.