Rhubarb is a healthy vegetable with an acquired taste, some people love it, others hate it.
But regardless of your taste buds, there are numerous health benefits associated with the vegetable including protection against colon cancer, heart disease and many other life-threatening conditions.
As beneficial as rhubarb is, it is not immune from expiration.
Here is some helpful information about rhubarb, whether it goes bad and how to store it in the right way to prevent it from expiring before the expiration date.
Does Rhubarb Go Bad?
Yes, rhubarb will go bad if it is left out on the counter for more than four days after buying it.
The best thing to do is put it in the fridge immediately to start the preservation process; this is true even if you do intend on using the rhubarb immediately.
The good news is that you can preserve the lifespan of rhubarb by storing it in the right way, we will get into that in another section.
How long does Rhubarb Last?
The length of time rhubarb lasts will depend on how you store it. If you are planning on using them a couple of days after purchase, you can leave them on the kitchen counter, and they will last 2 to 4 days. During this time, the leaves will start drying out a bit, but the stalks will remain fresh.
If you want the rhubarb to last a bit longer, transfer them into a bag and put them in the fridge. In this way, the rhubarb will last for around five to seven days.
If you want to keep the stalks for longer than one week, its best you freeze them, and they should last for up to 12 months. However, if you are a fan of eating raw rhubarb, you won’t be able to once they’ve been thawed because they won’t have the same firm, crispy texture.
But you can use thawed rhubarb for pies, stews and soups without noticing a difference.
|Rhubarb||5 – 7 days|
10 – 12 months
4 Tips to Tell if Rhubarb Has Gone Bad
It’s easy to buy too much rhubarb when you are not sure how much you will need. As you’ve read, after storing it for a while, the rhubarb might have gone bad. Here are 4 tips to determine whether you need to get rid of it:
- Smell: Rhubarb is a vegetable and it should smell fresh, if it smells rotten or moldy, it’s time to throw it in the trash.
- Color: The overall color of rhubarb is ruby red, you will also find a few light green patches scattered across the stalks. If the skin starts turning brown or black, or you find dark grey patches on it, that’s a clear indication its rotten.
- Mold: If there are a few dots of mold at the end of the stalk, you can get away with cutting it off. But once the mold starts spreading and traveling up the stalk, get rid of it. Mold typically develops in the form of small black, white or green specs. You will also find that mold manifests as white fir, you might not be able to see it, but you can feel it.
- Texture: Fresh rhubarb should be firm when pressed. Any signs of softness or tenderness means it’s past the sell by date. If the rhubarb has turned completely mushy, no need for a touch test, that’s a sure sign its rotten and that you need to throw the stalks in the trash immediately.
- Taste: Most people put their rhubarb in a pie, but you can eat it raw if that’s your preference. It typically has a tart taste and the stalks should be crispy. You will know if rhubarb has gone bad because there will be no crunch to it, and instead of a tart taste, it will be bitter.
The best way to ensure your rhubarb remains fresh is with proper storage, package it well and don’t leave it sitting on your kitchen counter at room temperature.
How to Store Rhubarb
Rhubarb is not like other vegetables; it is unique in its own right and there are things you will need to do before storing it. To start, rhubarb typically has leaves on it, but they are poisonous.
Some stores cut them off before putting them on display, others don’t. If your rhubarb has leaves on it, you will need to trim them as soon as you arrive home.
When it comes to storage, you can either do it at room temperature, in the fridge or in the freezer. Here are some tips on how to store rhubarb:
1. Room Temperature
If you are going to use the rhubarb within a couple of days of buying it, you can store it at room temperature. You can leave them on the kitchen counter or put them in the pantry.
It is advised that you don’t wrap them up because this traps the moisture and stops the vegetable from drying out.
As beneficial as this may sound, room temperature and moisture are not a good combination because it accelerates the bacteria growth.
2. In the Fridge
It is advised that you don’t wash the stalks before putting them in the fridge, but make sure you wrap them up first.
However, when you do wrap them, you will need to poke holes in the bag to allow for air circulation. Ethylene gas is responsible for helping fruits and vegetables to ripen, when it is trapped, the rhubarb will expire quicker than they are supposed to.
Additionally, it is just as important to keep them wrapped up because rhubarb is best kept when there is a high level of humidity, and as mentioned, the plastic helps keep moisture locked in.
It is also important to mention that if you choose to cut the rhubarb, it’s best that you store it in an airtight container; this will prevent it from getting ripe too quickly.
3. Freezing Rhubarb:
If you know in advance that you are going to freeze your rhubarb, its best you buy fresh, firm and ruby-red stalks.
If you choose not to blanch the stalks, the process will take around 10 minutes. But if you do blanch them, it can take around 40 minutes.
If you are not familiar with blanching, this video will take you through the process step by step.
Start by washing the rhubarb and trimming the stalks. Cut them down so they fit into the container or bag you are going to use. If you are going to blanch them, do so now. Whether blanched or not, leave the rhubarb to completely dry out before proceeding.
Some people prefer to do a pre-freeze so that they are not all stuck together when it comes to using them. You can do this by arranging the pieces on a sheet of parchment paper in a single layer. Freeze the rhubarb for a couple of hours and then remove them from the freezer before packaging them.
Label the bags or containers you are going to use, store and put them in the freezer.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Rhubarb?
Most people don’t like wasting food and would rather eat or give leftovers away that are past their expiration date. As noble as this might be, it isn’t the best idea to eat rotten food, here’s why.
According to Science Daily, eating spoilt food can have fatal consequences because it gives bacterial pathogens access to the digestive system and this can cause an adverse reaction in the body.
However, this doesn’t mean your life is at risk if you’ve eaten some rotten rhubarb, but don’t keep eating it.
If you experience symptoms such as severe stomach pains, dizziness or uncontrollable diarrhea, it is advised that you book an appointment with your healthcare provider.
Can You Freeze Rhubarb?
Yes, if you want to keep rhubarb for longer than three weeks, the best thing to do is freeze it. You might have bought a large quantity and realized you don’t need as much as you thought.
Or, you cooked some in a pie and would like to keep some for a few weeks. There is not much to freezing rhubarb, it’s a simple process, but you will need to freeze fresh and cooked rhubarb differently.
- Freezing Fresh Rhubarb: If there is a lot of pie left, you can make things easier for yourself by separating portions into different containers or Ziploc bags. Make sure the container is freezer proof and airtight.
- Freezing Fresh Rhubarb: Prepare the rhubarb as if you were going to use it in a recipe. Before packaging it, dry the rhubarb with a paper towel.
Whether you are freezing the rhubarb fresh or frozen, the entire process will take you less than 10 minutes.
If rhubarb is your thing, it’s a tasty and delicious treat you can eat and enjoy all year round. Remember, don’t eat it if it’s gone bad, and follow the above instructions to ensure that your rhubarb lasts as long as you need it to.