Rhubarb, which looks like a pink celery stalk, is botanically a vegetable, but it is used as a fruit largely in pies and sauces. In some areas it is referred to as “Pie Plant”.
Rhubarb comes in two main varieties. Strawberry Rhubarb or (Hothouse) has thin, pale-pink stalks and light green leaves and is typically smaller, less stringy and less course than field rhubarb. It is available from Washington State, California, Oregon and Michigan from mid-January to mid-April. Cherry Rhubarb or (Field) has dark-red stalks, with green leaves and is has a pronounced tart flavor. Field rhubarb is available from Washington State, Michigan, and California from February to June.
It is critical to remove the leaves from rhubarb stalks before using because they are poisonous and can be dangerous in large quantities. Since rhubarb has a tart flavor, combining it with other sweeter fruits is a preferred method of use in pies and muffins. Rhubarb may take a little extra care in preparing but it’s worth it.