Can You Freeze Rhubarb?
Yes, you can freeze rhubarb for use in pies, bars, crisps, and more — here's how.
Sweet and tart rhubarb is synonymous with springtime, thanks to its limited season that runs from around late March to June. This temperamental vegetable — yes, it's technically a vegetable — does not like hot weather. But before you limit your enjoyment of rhubarb to just a few short months, consider freezing it for year-round use in all your favorite recipes.
Related: 12 Rhubarb Recipes That Aren't Pie
Can You Freeze Fresh Rhubarb?
Fresh rhubarb arrives just in time for spring holidays like Easter and Mother's Day. But this festive, bright pink vegetable does well in the freezer, so you can continue your enjoyment well into the summer and fall. Following our instructions below, you can freeze rhubarb, while still preserving the flavor and gorgeous bright color of fresh rhubarb.
How Long Can You Freeze Rhubarb?
Rhubarb can be frozen for up to one year — just in time for the next rhubarb season to roll around! The quality will begin to deteriorate with time, so the sooner you're able to use it the better your results will be.
How to Freeze Rhubarb Step-Step
1. Cut the Stalks
Start by rinsing the rhubarb as you would normally to remove any dirt. Remove and discard the leaves, as these contain a chemical called oxalic acid which is toxic to humans and animals. Trim the ends and pat dry with a towel.
Almost all rhubarb recipes are going to call for cut rhubarb pieces, which is why we recommend cutting your stalks into one-inch pieces before freezing.
2. Blanch (Optional)
Blanching and shocking vegetables helps to preserve their color and crunch. However, rhubarb's bright pink color does tend to brown a little once cooked, so you may choose to forego this step. But if you plan to freeze rhubarb longterm (more than three months), blanching might be a good idea.
To blanch rhubarb, bring a pot of water to boil and drop the rhubarb pieces into the boiling water for one minute. Once the time is up, drain and immediately plunge the rhubarb pieces into a bowl filled with cold water and ice to stop the cooking process. Let the pieces chill in the ice bath for about two minutes. Finally, drain the rhubarb pieces and pat dry.
3. Flash Freeze
Flash freezing, or freezing the pieces separate from one another, prevents the formation of a frozen rhubarb clump that is impossible to use. To flash freeze, spread the rhubarb pieces on a baking sheet, making sure the pieces are separate from one another. Place the baking sheet in the freezer and leave until frozen, or about two hours.
4. Transfer to Freezer Bags
Transfer the frozen rhubarb pieces to freezer-safe bags or storage containers. Tightly seal them, removing any excess air. Label with the date and quantity, and freeze for up to one year.
Can You Freeze Rhubarb Pies, Bars, Crisps, and Crumbles?
Though technically a vegetable, rhubarb is treated as a fruit in cooking because of it's sweet-tart flavor. It's a favorite ingredient in springtime desserts like pies, bars, crisps, and crumbles. You can make these desserts ahead of time and freeze them for enjoyment months later. To do so, wrap in a layer of plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil, and freeze for up to three months.
When you're ready to enjoy, place the dessert in the refrigerator to thaw, and reheat in the oven.
How to Use Frozen Rhubarb
You can use frozen rhubarb in recipes one of two ways: The first option is to simply add the frozen rhubarb straight to whatever it is you're cooking. You may need to add a little cornstarch to counter any excess moisture that can come as a result of the ice crystals melting.
You can also thaw the rhubarb by leaving it out on the counter (in a bowl to catch excess liquid) for several hours. Once the rhubarb is thawed, drain it to remove any excess liquid. You'll notice that the previously frozen rhubarb will have shrunk a little. When substituting frozen rhubarb for fresh in recipes, add a little extra rhubarb to make up for this difference in volume.