Freezing Rhubarb

stalks of rhubarb chopped into small pieces
Stalks of rhubarb partially chopped. Photo-

If your rhubarb plants are producing more than can be used fresh, consider freezing rhubarb to enjoy later in the summer or next winter.  Rhubarb freezes well and is just as nutritious and flavorful as fresh rhubarb. It is easily used in recipes without sacrificing quality. Read on for the easiest way to freeze fresh rhubarb successfully.

A few notes before getting into freezing. Rhubarb is a short-season vegetable; harvest may take place from early spring until mid-to-late June in the Midwest. Harvesting after that time, or over-harvesting, will weaken the plant and may reduce the yield and quality of next year’s crop. While the rhubarb stalks do become more woody later in the summer, they do not become poisonous. Harvest stalks that are at least 12 inches long and about thumb thick. When buying rhubarb at the grocery store or farmer’s markets, look for bright, firm stalks with no blemishes or brown spots.

Step-By-Step Freezing Guide

Prepare – Choose firm, tender, well-colored stalks with good flavor and few fibers. Remove the leaves and trim the ends. Wash, dry, and cut into preferred size pieces. Heating rhubarb in boiling water for 1 minute and cooling promptly in cold water helps retain color and flavor but is not necessary.

Pack – Choose a pack method that fits intended future use. The National Center for Home Food Preservations offers these methods:

  • Tray Pack. Tray packing is the best way to keep the rhubarb pieces from freezing in a clump allowing one to take out and use as much as needed for cooking or baking. Pieces are cut, placed on a baking tray, flash frozen, bagged, labeled and refrozen.
  • Dry Pack. Pack either raw or preheated rhubarb tightly into containers or freezer bags without sugar. This method works well where the rhubarb will be later cooked into jams or sauces.
  • Syrup Pack. Pack either raw or preheated rhubarb tightly into containers, cover with cold 40 percent syrup. This method gives good results for rhubarb that may be stewed or juiced.

Freeze – Use containers or bags specifically made for freezing. Leave headspace. Seal, label, and freeze. Properly frozen, packaged and stored rhubarb will last indefinitely in the freezer but is best used within 12 months.  Frozen rhubarb can be substituted for fresh rhubarb in many recipes. Frozen rhubarb will release juices as it thaws; do not discard the juice as it is part of the rhubarb.

A YouTube, How to Freeze Rhubarb by The University of Maine Cooperative Extension shows just how quick and easy it is to freeze rhubarb!

Updated 4/2024 mg.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

More Posts

2 thoughts on “Freezing Rhubarb

  1. I just planted rhubarb this year, is it better to not cut this year and wait till next year? Do I need to trim the stalks and or plant this fall.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Connect with us!

AnswerLine's Facebook page AnswerLine's Pinterest page
Phone: (Monday-Friday, 9 am-noon; 1-4 pm)
1-800-262-3804 (in Iowa)
1-800-854-1678 (in Minnesota)