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How to Dry Rhubarb - An Illustrated Guide
How I Came to Dry Rhubarb
Food is one of my favorite topics. And I'm especially fond of anything I can grow myself. There is nothing prettier than new, rosy rhubarb thrusting leaf buds through damp spring soil.
When I was a child, my grandmother had huge patches of rhubarb on her farm - growing along the garden fence (on the outside, where it could run rampant), next to the grain bins, and randomly anywhere it liked and that she didn't mind.
My cousins and I ransacked these patches, running about with long stalks which we sucked or nibbled, grimacing, until they were either limp or eaten. We girls used the leaves, with the longest stalks attached, as parasols, playing "fine lady". (We grew up reading Victorian literature.) The only marring of this joy was the adults' repeated warnings, "Don't each the leaves! Those leaves are poison!"
Is it any wonder I look for every way possible to extend the delight of the rhubarb patch through various food preservation methods?
I'll bet some of you have similar sweet memories. The Comments section is open below.
An Easy Way to Store Dried Rhubarb
What Can Dried Rhubarb Be Used For?
Dried rhubarb is valuable. It takes up less space than frozen or canned rhubarb, and, while it can take a bit of forethought to use, is often just as flavorful as its fresh counterparts.
Dried rhubarb can be used:
- Plain, as a snack
- In granola or other fruit mixes
- Reconstituted, in any recipe you like (sauces, pies, crisps, meat dishes, etc.)
What you need in order to dry rhubarb is:
- A food dehydrator (I usually use a commercial unit, rather than a homemade or sun-dry type). Alternatively, you can use a just-warm oven.
- Drying screens or trays
- A steamer (optional)
- Fresh or frozen rhubarb
To see how to prepare fresh rhubarb for use, see How to Harvest and Prepare Rhubarb for Cooking, Baking, and Freezing.
Step One - Chop and Steam Rhubarb
About Steaming Rhubarb
Steaming is usually not a necessary step when drying rhubarb. Some people believes that it helps a food hold its value better. However, I have tried drying rhubarb with and without steaming it first, and found we like the texture and color of the unsteamed rhubarb better.
The steamed rhubarb tends to be flakier, flatter, sometimes stringier-seeming or course in the center of pieces, and sometimes turns a bit browner. (The color change is the opposite of what steamed and dried foods are supposed to do, but we have found this to be true with more than one product.)
The unsteamed rhubarb is much like the fresh, except for being small and brittle - which it should be.
It's your choice whether to steam or not to steam.
Spread on Trays or Screens to Dry Thoroughly
How to Use Dried Rhubarb For Baking or Cooking
How to Use Dried Rhubarb in Other Recipes
To use dried rhubarb in granola or similar mixes, snip the pieces using kitchen scissors, or break them with your hands, until they are the desired size. Then mix! They can be used successfully anywhere you might use dried cranberries or another tart dried fruit.
Dried rhubarb makes a good snack as-is, if you are partial to tart foods. A small handful does it.
A Fascinating Rhubarb Cookbook
Ways to Eat Rhubarb
What Is Your Favorite Way to Eat Rhubarb?
A Rhubarb Chutney or Relish, Indian Style
What Does Rhubarb Have In It That Makes You Feel Good?
- Rhubarb nutrition facts and health benefits
Contains a nice bullet list of all the goody rhubarb has in it. It's quite a list, and explains why rhubarb can make a satisfying snack.
More Pics Coming
I intend to add photos showing what unsteamed rhubarb looks like when dried...just as soon as I find the ones I took last summer. :-D
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