What Does Rhubarb Taste Like? A Detailed Answer

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Did you just hear about rhubarb jam or rhubarb strawberry pie and are craving to taste it? But before you do that, it’s best to know what rhubarb tastes like beforehand because you can be in for a surprise. So, let’s stop your quest here! Read this article to know everything about rhubarb, its wide varieties, and its uses.


Rhubarb is a famous sour-tasting vegetable found in many baked dishes in the United States. It is often combined with sugar to balance its sour-bitter taste. Most people find its taste unpleasant when eaten raw.

Rhubarb is not only known for its culinary uses, but it is a highly considered vegetable in the medicinal world. Just like many other nutritious foods, it boasts many health benefits. And let me tell you friends, rhubarb can be used in a variety of recipes, which you will find out more about in the article below.

So, to find a place for rhubarb in your kitchen, let’s get down to understanding what rhubarb tastes like, what its edible parts are, and its several types without any further delay.

What Is Rhubarb?


Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that is native to Asia. This vegetable has ruby or green stems with large leaves that can grow up to 2 feet in height. However, rhubarb is most often cooked as fruit in the United States, as legally directed by the New York court in 1947.

Rhubarb grows best in cooler climates. It is a spring vegetable or fruit whose season begins in April and continues through July. It can even be eaten as early as January if the plants are kept covered or grown in dark sheds.

Rhubarb was first mentioned back in 2700 BC in ancient China, where it was cultivated for its laxative medical qualities.

Since then, it travelled to Europe in the 1400s and soared in popularity by making its way into the US in the early 1700s. Today, Rhubarb Triangle, found in West Yorkshire, England, is known as the most renowned location for the production of this fruit.

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What Does Rhubarb Taste Like?


If it’s the first time that you have come across rhubarb, then it’s good to know for starters that rhubarb is essentially a sour-tasting vegetable with a tart flavor when consumed raw. But it also comes in a sweeter taste, depending on the variety.

Due to its acidic flavor profile, rhubarb is also described as having a citrusy flavor. With such a unique flavor profile, it pairs well with a vast assortment of ingredients, especially sweet, to balance the tartness in sweet desserts or vice-versa. You can balance the sourness of rhubarb not just with sugar or honey but also with other sweet fruits and sauces.

The stalks of rhubarb have a crisp and fibrous texture that is quite similar to celery. Once cooked, the rhubarb stalk softens and becomes less fibrous.

Is Rhubarb Sweet or Sour?

To some people rhubarb tastes like a vegetable, and to others it tastes like a fruit. But the answer entirely depends upon the type of Rhubarb you are tasting and the recipe you are making with it.

Having said that, it is safe to assume that rhubarb is naturally a tart vegetable. Because of this reason, it makes good company with other fruits and sugar that cuts into its tartness. However, there are a few varieties of rhubarb like crimson cherry, German wine, MacDonald’s Canadian red, and Timperley early that are naturally sweet in taste. These can be eaten raw in salads.

What Does Rhubarb Taste Like When Raw?

Most people find the flavor of rhubarb unpleasant. Raw rhubarb is tart in taste. For this reason, it is mostly cooked in sweet pies and mixed with sweet vegetables in salads to balance its acidic taste profile. However, there are also a few varieties available in sweet taste that you can easily enjoy in its raw form.

To cut its tartness, it’s best to use rhubarb in pies, desserts, pies, compotes, and preserves.

What Does Rhubarb Taste Like When Cooked?

Rhubarb Jam Recipe

Rhubarb’s taste profile varies in terms of flavor depending on the variety. However, when cooked, rhubarb tastes sweet as it is commonly used with sugar. It has a distinctive flavor.

In terms of texture, cooked rhubarb softens a bit as compared to its raw crunchy stalks.

Does Rhubarb Taste Like Strawberry ?

Rhubarb Crisp Recipe

Rhubarb offers a unique taste due to its sweet and sour taste. Hence, it’s safe to say that it does taste like a mix of berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and lemon at times.

Does Rhubarb Taste Like Cherry ?

Cherries have a sweet and sour taste and deliver a woody aroma that makes them easy to consume in their raw form. In comparison rhubarb has a tarter taste. Thus, rhubarb doesn’t really taste like cherry.

What Does Rhubarb Pie Taste Like?

Rhubarb pie is a delicious dessert that has been enjoyed for many years. It is a combination of sweet, tangy, juicy and buttery flavors. This pie has a golden outer covering with a luscious filling inside that also gives out floral taste notes. The complexity of flavors and textures makes rhubarb pie an item worth giving a try.

What Does Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Taste Like?

Cooked alone, rhubarb is quite sour, however, strawberry and rhubarb are a match made in heaven! Let’s just say that it’s the perfect combination of sweetness and tartness that you have been waiting for. The flavors of strawberry rhubarb pie are complex yet comforting. They make for a great spring-time pie.

Is Rhubarb A Fruit Or A Vegetable?


Rhubarb is technically a vegetable that is native to Asia. But it has been legally considered a fruit in the United States since 1947 as a New York court declared rhubarb as a fruit. It is sold in markets and grocery stores as red and green stalks.

Can You Eat Rhubarb Raw?

Caution has to be observed when dealing with rhubarb. While consuming rhubarb, stick to eating only the stalks of rhubarb and discard the leaves. In terms of usage, certain types of rhubarb which are sweet in taste can be eaten raw. Whereas, the other varieties need to be paired with other ingredients for an appealing taste. For the best results, you can combine rhubarb with sugar or sweet fruits. Read on to find out some delicious rhubarb recipes ahead.

Parts Of Rhubarb That You Can Eat

Most of the time rhubarb is sold without the leaves, but it’s best to remove any if you notice them. Only the stalks of rhubarb should be consumed as the leaves are considered poisonous due to high oxalic acid and anthraquinone glycosides content. This chemical can cause digestive issues, lead to the formation of kidney stones, and even kidney failure.

Symptoms of rhubarb toxicity include a burning sensation in the mouth and throat, eye pain, difficulty in breathing, diarrhea, weakness, and even vomiting. The stalks are available in red and green colors, depending on the variety.

Types Of Rhubarb And Their Taste

victoria rhubarb

If you’re planning to have rhubarb, you would be happy to know that there are different varieties of rhubarb available in the market, and each differs in terms of taste, color, and size. Let’s take a look at the list below for a better understanding of its taste profile.

Rhubarb TypesTaste
VictoriaLightly tart taste
Timperley EarlySweet- tart
German WineSweetest 
Holsteiner BlutFruity, acidic
Frambozen RoodTart and sweet
Crimson CherrySweet
Riverside GiantTart
Grandad’s FavoriteSharp and fresh 
Glaskins PerpetualTart 
MacDonald’s Canadian RedSweet

Recipes That Use Rhubarb In It

Rhubarb Crisp Recipe

Now that you know the different varieties of rhubarb and what they taste like, let’s learn more about how you can use this fruit. Rhubarb is a versatile ingredient that can be pureed, sauteed, stewed, roasted, or baked. It is essentially used with sweet flavors due to its tart taste.

You can use rhubarb to make jams, pie, compotes, popsicles, ice creams, smoothies, muffins, savory sauces, stews, and soups.

Let’s take a look at some delicious rhubarb recipes.

1. Rhubarb Jam

Rhubarb makes for an excellent ingredient in jams. It’s not only easy to make rhubarb jam but it also tastes delightful. If you are a fan of having jams and are planning to make some, you can try making some rhubarb jam for its unique flavor. Its recipe involves just a handful of ingredients. 

All you need is some rhubarb, sugar, lemon, water, and a little stirring. And you have a perfectly delicious old-fashioned jam. 

2. Rhubarb Pie 

Rhubarb pie is a popular dish in the UK. It is combined with a whole lot of strawberries and sugar on the inside and comes with a crisp and flaky pie crust. You can enjoy this luscious pie with a side of vanilla ice cream.

3. Cookies

Cookies are always a staple for high teas. You can turn your next high-tea party with friends into a success with a fresh batch of rhubarb cookies.

To make these cookies, you can simply chop up small pieces of rhubarb straight into your vanilla cookie dough. Or you could also add in your rhubarb jam or preserve in your regular cookie recipe to add a punch of rhubarb taste profile.

4. Ice Pops

Ice pops are always a great idea to beat the heat. And rhubarb ice pops are the next thing you need to try. To try this lip-smacking recipe, all you need to do is cook rhubarb pieces with sugar and then add it with yogurt and maple syrup in a food processor. Once done, you can pour this mixture into ice pop molds and enjoy them once freezed.

5. Cake

If you are looking for a new flavor of cake then try baking an indulgent rhubarb cake. Just like rhubarb cookies, you can either dice up some rhubarb in your cake or add some rhubarb jam in the cake batter for a delicious taste.

 Apart from these, rhubarb is extensively used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is used to treat digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, stomach pain, and gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding. It is also applied to the skin to treat cold sores.

How To Buy The Best Rhubarb?


So, you are at the farmers market and wondering how to choose the best rhubarb for yourself? Worry not, we have some important pointers in check to help you buy the best produce.

  1. Texture- Good quality rhubarb stalks are firm to the touch. Look out for stalks that are crisp and bright in color.
  2. Taste- Purchase of rhubarb should essentially be dictated by the taste you are looking for. If your dish calls for an intense and robust tarty flavor, then look for rhubarb with green stalks that arrives between late March and early June. However, if you are looking for something sweeter and milder, then opt for red rhubarb stalks that are harvested between January and early February. They are younger, redder, and thinner in texture.
  3. Color– Rhubarb can range in color from green to a deep red and this can be an easier indicator of its taste. Redder stalks of rhubarb are sweeter in taste in comparison to green ones.
  4. When purchasing rhubarb, be sure to check for leaves. While most farmers or grocery stores will have already removed them because you can’t eat them. If you do spot some leaves, get rid of them. However, the freshness of leaves can help you tell if the stalks are older or in their best state.

Tips To Preserve Rhubarb For Best Taste

Rhubarb is a hardy vegetable that can be purchased, refrigerated, and stored for a couple of days, wrapped in a damp cloth. It’s also easy to freeze rhubarb for later use. To do this take a look at the steps below.

  1. You can wash the rhubarb stalks, cut them into chunks, and pack them in freezer bags. When in need of rhubarb, you can simply thaw it and use it in the required way.
  2. You can also preserve rhubarb in the form of jams, marinades, and sauces for those months of the year when there is an absence of its availability.

How To Tell If Rhubarb Is Ripe?

Any fruit or vegetable is bound to reach a particular time when it’s ready to be harvested. Same goes for rhubarb. In the case of checking the ripeness of rhubarb, there are common indicators that can help you to identify its maturity.

  1. Spring is the best time to harvest rhubarb.
  2. The right time to harvest rhubarb comes when the stalks of the leaves reach at least 10 inches long and before the plant begins to grow its flower stalks. This ensures that the plant has established itself well and is at its peak to deliver its fresh taste and texture.
  3. The brightness in color of stalks are good indicator of its maturity.

Nutritional Content Of Rhubarb


While rhubarb is a vegetable known for its reddish stalks and sour taste, it is not especially rich in essential nutrients and has a low-calorie content. However, it is a very good source of vitamin K1 and C.

NutrientsAmount per100-gram serving of cooked rhubarb with added sugar
Carbohydrates31.2 g
Vitamin K126% of the DV
Calcium15% of the DV
Vitamin C6% of the DV
Potassium3% of the DV
Folate 1% of the DV

Health Benefits Of Rhubarb

If you haven’t tried rhubarb yet, you are missing out on the many health benefits this fruit comes with. 

1.Lowers Cholesterol

According to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition eating rhubarb stalks lowered cholesterol levels in men with high cholesterol. It was especially helpful in reducing LDL or bad cholesterol.

2. Boosts Brain Health

The vitamin K in rhubarb limits neuronal damage to the brain that can help prevent Alzheimer’s.

3. Rhubarb Aids Weight Loss

Because of its low-calorie content, rhubarb can be a great addition to a weight loss diet. It also contains catechins – compounds found in green tea that provide many health benefits. 

Rhubarb is also a good source of fiber that makes it a great food item for weight loss.

4. Help Combat Cancer

According to a study, physcion, a concentrated chemical in rhubarb that gives its stems their color, can kill 50% of cancer cells in about 48 hours.

6. Protects The Heart 

Studies also show that the active compounds in rhubarb help in protecting the arteries from damage, which might otherwise lead to cardiovascular disease. It can also lower blood pressure.

8. Relieves PMS Symptoms

Rhubarb is believed to relieve hot flashes, especially during perimenopause. 

9. Delays Skin Aging

Being a storehouse of vitamin A, rhubarb is a natural antioxidant that helps in neutralizing free radicals and delays the symptoms of aging. Say hello to young and beautiful skin with rhubarb as a part of your diet. 


Rhubarb stalks are one of the few plants that grow in nearly every growing zone. While it is technically a vegetable, it is referred to as a fruit in many places. All varieties of rhubarb contain oxalic acid in the leaves, which makes them toxic to use. Hence, only the stalks of rhubarb come in culinary use.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is rhubarb a vegetable or fruit?

Rhubarb is essentially a vegetable. However, it is most often cooked as fruit in the United States, as legally directed by the New York court in 1947.

Is eating rhubarb good for you?

Rhubarb is rich in antioxidants, Vitamin K, and C, which help protect you from many health-related issues such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Can you eat rhubarb raw?

Although rhubarb can be eaten raw, it tends to be too tart in this form. It tastes best when cooked with sugar.

Is rhubarb a Superfood?

Due to its impressive nutritional profile, rhubarb is being called by some in the food industry “the next fruit superfood.”

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