When you know how to freeze fresh rhubarb it is so much easier to enjoy the flavors of it all year round! Learn how to properly trim, clean, freeze, and store your fresh rhubarb to enjoy in your favorite dessert recipes!
It always seems that when rhubarb is in season, I am up to my ears in stalks of the tart, tangy vegetable (yes, rhubarb is a vegetable!) and run out of time to use it all.
To prevent wasting the summer harvest, I freeze whatever rhubarb I’m not going to immediately use. Then I use it when the craving for a simple compote, rhubarb cheesecake squares, or delicious rhubarb crisp strikes me.
Properly trimming rhubarb stalks
The first step in freezing any sort of fresh produce is making sure it is properly prepped. For rhubarb, this means first removing the leaves and bottoms ends of the stalks. I typically do this right outside by the rhubarb bush, just using kitchen shears or a sharp knife to carefully remove each end of the stalk.
If you have a compost pile, it’s a great place to toss the discarded bits of leaves and stalks.
Cleaning Fresh Rhubarb
Depending on where your rhubarb patch is located, it may be subject to getting bits of leaves, grass, or other yard trash in it during growing.
To be sure this is removed before using, I always give my stalks an initial rinse after they’ve been trimmed but before chopping. Then a more thorough wash once the stalks have been chopped into usable pieces.
Simply put the chopped rhubarb into a strainer and give it a healthy rinse, tossing the pieces gently to ensure every piece is properly rinsed. Allow the excess water to drain for a few minutes before continuing with usage or freezing.
- Once the rhubarb is cleaned and drained, spread it out onto a paper towel lined rimmed baking sheet. The paper towel will absorb any excess water and the rimmed baking sheet will ensure no pieces of rhubarb roll off.
- I prefer to use paper towel for produce like rhubarb or fresh berries as they tend to bleed and can stain fabric. Of course, you can use a clean kitchen towel if desired to reduce paper waste.
- If your rhubarb pieces were particularly wet, or if they haven’t had time to properly drain, you may want to do this process twice, discarding the soaked paper towel and replacing it with a dry layer, if necessary.
- It’s important to use a baking sheet that is big enough so all the pieces can lay in a single layer and aren’t touching too much. This will ensure even freezing and help prevent sticking.
Flash Freezing Fresh Produce
A process called flash freezing will also ensure the rhubarb doesn’t freeze together in one large clump. I use this method for freezing rhubarb as well as freezing fresh cranberries and freezing mulberries.
Flash Freezing is a method of freezing fresh fruit or vegetables in a single layer on a lined baking tray until the produce is completely frozen.
If you just throw fresh produce in a freezer bag from the get-go, it will freeze in a giant clump and make it very difficult to use moving forward.
Storing Frozen Rhubarb
Once the flash freezing is complete and the rhubarb is frozen solid, transfer the frozen pieces to a freezer-safe zip-top bag. Label with the contents of the bag, the amount or weight of the item, and the date it is being frozen before returning it to the freezer.
A properly labeled bag ensures that no mystery items wind up at the back of the freezer and that you know exactly how much you’re using and when it was initially harvested.
How to Freeze Fresh Rhubarb
- Sharp Knife
- Paper Towels
- Rimmed Baking Sheet
- Freezer-safe zip-top bags
- Fresh rhubarb stalks
- Trim the leaves and ends off the stalks of rhubarb and discard. Give the trimmed stalks a quick rinse under cool water.
- Chop the trimmed stalks into uniform pieces roughly ½ inch to 1-inch long. Place in a colander and thoroughly wash with cool water. After rinsing, allow rhubarb pieces to drain excess water for a few minutes.
- Pour the rinsed and drained rhubarb pieces onto a rimmed baking sheet that has been lined with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. (If the rhubarb is particularly wet, you may have to repeat the towel process twice, discarding the soaked paper towel.)
- Ensure the rhubarb is in an even, single layer and place the baking sheet flat in the freezer for at least four hours, or overnight, or until the pieces have frozen solid. This is a process referred to as flash freezing.
- Transfer the flash-frozen rhubarb to a freezer-safe zip-top bag, labeling it with the contents, weight, and date of storage and return to freezer.
- Frozen rhubarb can be kept for up to one year and can be used just as fresh rhubarb in most recipes!