How Long Does Rhubarb Last?

You’ve got a couple of rhubarb stalks left after baking rhubarb pie, and no plans for them. That makes you wonder: how long does rhubarb last until it goes bad?

If you don’t exactly know how much rhubarb you need for a recipe, it’s easy to buy too much. And when you see the leftover stalks or cut pieces, you immediately start thinking how much time you have until the veggie spoils. Or how to best store the leftovers so they last until you can use them.

If that sounds familiar, you’re in the right place. Keep reading.

Rhubarb prep
Rhubarb prep for rhubarb kompot

How Long Does Rhubarb Last?

Before we get to storage options and periods, I want you to know that you should trim and discard any leaves before storing ([ILL]). You know, just in case your rhubarb came with leaves and you didn’t cut them off yet.

If you need your stalks to last only a couple of days (say 2 to 4 days), letting them sit on the counter or in the pantry is okay.

They will start to dry out, but the changes won’t be that big of a deal. Especially if you’re going to use the veggie in a pie. If you want to eat it raw, consider putting the rhubarb in the fridge once you get home.

To keep rhubarb around for longer, you need to refrigerate it.

One way of doing that is putting it in there in a plastic bag ([PSU]). This way, the veggie should retain quality for about two weeks. Poke some holes in the bag to let the ethylene gas (responsible for ripening of fruits and vegetables) escape and not make your rhubarb go overripe too quickly.

Prep for rhubarb kompot
Prep for rhubarb kompot

If you need a bit more than that, you can keep the rhubarb for even up to three weeks if you wrap the stalks somewhat loosely (without crimping the ends) in aluminum foil ([CI]). That helps keep the stalks moist and, at the same time, lets the mentioned gas escape.

It’s like with mangos, papayas, and many other fruits and vegetables: you need ethylene for the product to ripen, and then you let it escape, so the product doesn’t go overripe prematurely.

One other way of extending rhubarb’s life is by wrapping the stalks in a damp cloth. This way, they don’t dry out as fast. The only downside is that you need to dampen the cloth every couple of days to keep everything moist.

Rhubarb kompot
Rhubarb kompot, great both hot and cold

Can You Freeze Rhubarb?

If those two to three weeks aren’t enough for you, freezing might be the way to go. The veggie freezes quite well, both fresh and in a recipe (rhubarb pie!).

Frozen and thawed rhubarb works best in cooked (soups, stews) and baked (pies) recipes.

If you’re freezing the pie, all you need to do is put it in an airtight container or freezer bag, seal tight, and put it into the freezer.

Rhubarb pie
Rhubarb pie

If you want to freeze fresh rhubarb, it takes a bit more than that. Here’s how you can go about it ([PSU]):

  1. Wash, cut, and trim. Basically, prepare the rhubarb as if you were preparing it for the recipe you’re going to use it in later on. Make sure the rhubarb is dry before you continue.
  2. Pack. Transfer the cut rhubarb into freezer-safe containers or bags. Each one should have enough to use in a future recipe. The pieces will stick together when frozen, so packing them this way avoids dealing with that later. You defrost the whole container, and you’re ready to go.
  3. Freeze. Put the container or bags in the freezer, and you’re done.

As you can tell, the whole procedure is quite simple and takes maybe 10 minutes, depending on the number of stalks you have.

Rhubarb frozen this way should keep quality for at least a couple of months.

Rhubarb kompot cooked
Rhubarb kompot just cooked

How To Tell If Rhubarb Is Bad?

Telling if your rhubarb is bad or not is not exactly rocket science. Chances are you’ll know right away if yours is off when you see it. But if you’re not quite sure what to look for, here’s a handy list:

  • Texture. Fresh rhubarb is firm. If yours is soft or limp and doesn’t quite hold its shape when you hold it by one of the ends, discard it.
  • Color. Rhubarb is ruby-red, often with some light green patches here and there. If the skin starts to darken and turns brown or black, it’s quite obvious that the stalk is done for.
  • Mold. Some small signs of mold might show up on both ends of the stalk, especially if you leave it at room temperature. As long as they’re small, you can cut them off and enjoy the rest. But if the mold starts to spread, get rid of the rhubarb.
  • Smell. I’ve never had a rhubarb that smelled bad, but if yours does, something’s not right. If that’s the case, throw it out.
Rhubarb pie and kompot
Rhubarb combo: pie plus kompot

Summary

  • Rhubarb lasts only a couple of days at room temperature.
  • Keep rhubarb wrapped and in the fridge when it can last about two weeks.
  • To lenghten the storage time to up to three weeks, wrap it with aluminum foil without crimping the ends.
  • If that’s not long enough, you can freeze your leftover rhubarb.
Cutting rhubarb
Cutting rhubarb

References