It's a sure sign of spring when brightly colored rhubarb emerges from its long winter's nap. Cooks in northern regions, where rhubarb grows best, prize this hardy perennial for its tart, tender stalks.
When to Find the Freshest Rhubarb
Spring, whenever that comes in your part of the world.
How to Choose Rhubarb at the Store
You'll want crisp, straight stalks that are a bright color.
How to Store Rhubarb
Try to use rhubarb as soon as you buy it. If you must store it for longer, you can keep the stalks wrapped in plastic or in plastic bags for up to three weeks. (Don't cut the leaves off, they help the rhubarb stay fresh. Just make sure kids and critters can't get to them--they're toxic.) When you're ready to use the rhubarb, soak it in water first to get some color and firmness back.
How to Prepare Rhubarb
Trim off the ends and, if you like, tear out the celery-like strings in the stalk. (The strings can be a little tough, but cooking usually softens them up.) Throw away the toxic leaves.
How to Grow Rhubarb
You'll start rhubarb not from seeds, but from a plant you buy at the garden store. Rhubarb doesn't fully mature for two seasons, but it is a very pretty plant and will add color to your garden. Ask the friendly folks at your local garden store for information about planting rhubarb in your area.