October is National Rhubarb Month
I bet you are asking, ‘why October?’ I am not quite sure. This doesn’t quite make sense because rhubarb is very strongly associated with spring in the northern United States. In October it is just starting to go dormant with the first few frosts. If we were in the Southern hemisphere, however, we would just be starting to harvest the stalks this month. Maybe we celebrate rhubarb in October just so we have it in our thoughts year-round and can be jealous of those on the other side of the world enjoying its delicious sweet-tart taste now when we have to wait another six months for it.
Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum, Rheum x hybridum) is a cool season, perennial vegetable with long leaf stalks, or petioles, that hold large, triangular leaves. We eat the red, fleshy stalks of the plant that are quite tart when not cooked. In the culinary world it is considered a fruit because it is often sweetened and used with other fruit in desserts and baked goods, hence its nickname of ‘pie plant’. Rhubarb pairs perfectly with strawberries because of the flavor and the shared early growing season.
Keep rhubarb on your mind until next spring when you can plant crowns or divisions to grow your own and use some in your favorite recipe or stick with the traditional favorite and celebrate National Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie Day on June 9th. If you are going to try to grow rhubarb yourself make sure you give it a nice spot where it can live for up to twenty years without being disturbed. To see some plants in person come check out the Victory Garden at the Museum of American History!