By Liesl Clark
Rhubarb has been around a long time. By some accounts, it has a 4,700-year-old history whose origins lie in a couple of remote regions in Tibet. I’ve simply known rhubarb as the weird-looking sour stalk with an enormous leaf that makes its presence known around Mother’s Day when we bake our family favorite: strawberry rhubarb pie. As far as fruit pies are concerned, nothing compares.
Is rhubarb a fruit or a vegetable? It’s actually a veggie, but in this country it took a court case to establish rhubarb officially as a fruit. According to Wikipedia, “Rhubarb is usually considered to be a vegetable; however, in the United States, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit, it was to be counted as a fruit for the purposes of regulations and duties.”
Aside from dessert (and using it as an umbrella), what else can you do with this weird plant?
1) Put those leaves in your compost. They’ll break down quickly.
2) Hair Dye: Rhubarb root and leaves can be used for hair dye. One recipe here will give you a pink look, the other a beautiful brown.
3) Pot Cleaner: If you want to give your pots an added shine, use rhubarb leaves. The high oxalic acid content in the leaves renders them toxic, so take care to not ingest them. But they’re fine to handle and use on your pots.
4) Insecticide: The rhubarb leaf is quite toxic. Even insects steer clear of it. Here are 2 recipes to keep your plants bug free.
5) Juice: Try your hand at making rhubarb shrub. What? Shrub. It’s an American classic. And it’s bubbly and tasty. You’ll see.
What rhubarb uses can you add?
Looking for more wonderful things you can do with everyday produce? Check out our blog home page where we have a series of interesting uses for things you regularly have in your kitchen.