The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat rhubarb. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What rhubarb etiquette is

Rhubarb etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat rhubarb. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve rhubarb to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat rhubarb at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve rhubarb

What you should know about rhubarb

Rhubarb is a plant popular for its edible stalks.

Rhubarb stalks are long and thick. They are usually bright red or green in color. The stalks are fibrous and somewhat crunchy in texture, while tart and sour in flavor.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat rhubarb

1) How to store rhubarb

It is best to store rhubarb in the fridge. Keep it at a temperature between 32-40°F (0-4°C). You can also freeze it. Rhubarb can last up to 1 week in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer. Avoid storing rhubarb in the pantry.

After slicing or cooking rhubarb, you should store it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

2) How to clean rhubarb

To clean rhubarb, rinse it under cold water. Then, trim off the ends. There are no significant health risks associated with cleaning rhubarb, but it is important to remove any leaves, as they are toxic.

Signs that rhubarb has turned bad include a mushy texture, a foul smell, and mold or discoloration.

3) How to cook rhubarb

Rhubarb can be eaten raw or cooked. However, it is most commonly cooked in recipes. It is a popular ingredient in desserts such as pies, tarts, and crumbles. You can also add it to a sauce or compote. Some popular dishes with rhubarb include strawberry rhubarb pie, rhubarb crisp, and rhubarb jam.

You can use rhubarb in salads and sandwiches, as well as in juice, smoothies, jam, and preserves.

4) How to serve & present rhubarb

Rhubarb can be appropriate for many occasions, from formal meals to snacks. It is most common to serve it as a dessert. However, you can also use it for side dishes or in main courses.

Serve rhubarb in a small dish or bowl. There are no specific serving tools needed. It is best to serve it at room temperature or slightly chilled.

5) Food and wine to pair rhubarb with

Rhubarb pairs well with sweet accompaniments such as sugar or honey, as well as with spices such as ginger or cinnamon.

Rhubarb pairs well with fruits such as strawberries, apples, and citrus, as well as with vegetables such as beets and carrots. It is best to avoid pairing it with sharp-flavored vegetables such as garlic or onions.

You can pair rhubarb with cheese and dairy, such as cream cheese or yogurt. It is best to avoid pairing it with too-strong cheeses, such as blue cheese.

Rhubarb can combine well with meats such as pork or chicken. It is not typically paired with fish. It is best to avoid pairing it with strong-flavored meats, such as beef or lamb.

Rhubarb pairs well with white and red wines, particularly those that are sweet or fruity. Recommended wine pairings include Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. It can also be paired with sparkling wine, dessert wine, and beer.

6) How to eat rhubarb

Eat rhubarb with a fork. It is polite to cut it into small pieces before eating. It is not polite to eat rhubarb with your fingers. Discard the leaves of rhubarb, as they are toxic.

Rhubarb etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common rhubarb etiquette mistakes:

  • 8/10. Serving rhubarb raw with leaves still attached.
  • 8/10. Failing to remove the leaves before cooking.
  • 7/10. Using a knife to cut rhubarb on a plate.

Additional information for properly serving rhubarb

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly planning a menu.

Rhubarb is low in calories. It contains about 13 calories per 100 grams. A single stalk of rhubarb usually weighs around 50 grams and contains about 7 calories.

How to buy the best rhubarb

A crucial factor in rhubarb etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Rhubarb is a seasonal vegetable. It is typically available in the spring and early summer. In the Northern Hemisphere, the peak months are usually from April to June.

Choose the best

The most common way to find rhubarb in commerce is as fresh stalks. You can also buy rhubarb canned, frozen, or dried.

The most common varieties of rhubarb in commerce are Victoria, Canada Red, and Cherry Red. Victoria is the most prized for its flavor and bright red color.

When buying fresh rhubarb, look for firm and crisp stalks with a deep red color. Avoid stalks that are soft or limp, or that have brown spots or discoloration.

Alternatives to rhubarb

Some common alternatives to rhubarb include strawberries, raspberries, and other tart fruits such as cranberries or sour cherries. These fruits share similar flavors and can be used in similar ways in cooking and baking. In some cases, rhubarb can also be substituted with citrus fruits, such as lemons or oranges.