Mainely Dish: Rhubarb Muffins

— By Alex Gayton, Assistant EFNEP Coordinator & Social Media Coordinator, Expanded Food Nutrition and Education Program (EFNEP), University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Visit EFNEP’s recipe website for the Rhubarb Muffins recipe and recipe video.

Growing up, my grandparents always had a rhubarb plant growing at their camp. I never really knew what it was. The one time I tried it, I remember not liking it because it was so tart. As an adult, I have learned that rhubarb is often paired with a sweeter ingredient, such as strawberries to help contrast the tartness.. Where I live now, we have two large rhubarb plants that are growing in our yard that I haven’t ventured to use until this year because I didn’t know when to harvest or how to cook with rhubarb. I am excited to share this insightful information with you if you are new to using rhubarb like me.

Rhubarb is a cool-weather perennial that starts growing in early spring and will go dormant in the winter. Rhubarb can be commonly found in grocery stores or at farmers’ markets between April and June and can be harvested throughout the first half of summer. It is recommended to stop harvesting by August 31 to ensure that the plant has sufficient time to increase its nutrient storage to prepare for winter.

The rhubarb stalks can be harvested by pulling them with a twisting motion from the base or by cutting them right above the base. Be sure to remove the leaves and discard them since they are not safe to eat. Rhubarb contains vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, potassium, phosphorus, and fiber.

Before eating or cooking with rhubarb be sure to wash the stalks and cut the woody parts off the stalk. Our Rhubarb Muffin recipe calls for 2 cups of chopped rhubarb stalks, which is equivalent to about 2-4 stalks, depending on size. To help decrease tartness, this recipe calls for brown sugar. This recipe was a hit for my family, and another plus is that muffins are a great baked good to freeze. Make sure to use a freezer-grade container or zip-top plastic bag when freezing the muffins. Read our How to Freeze Rhubarb This Spring blog for more about food preservation of rhubarb.