When it comes to freezing rhubarb, there at least two popular methods of doing that: freezing chopped rhubarb dry or freezing rhubarb in sugar syrup. In this article we will cover both of the methods. Sounds interesting? If so, read along.
How to freeze rhubarb
First, you need to choose rhubarb stalks that will freeze well. Choose firm and ripe ones (color differs between varieties of rhubarb). Wash the stalks under running water and make sure to get rid of all the dirt. If the skin of any of the stalks seems to be tough, peel it. Now it’s time to cut off ends of rhubarb na cut the stalks into pieces. When cutting consider what size and shape will be a good choice for the dish you’re going to use that rhubarb in. You don’t want to cut it into smaller pieces after thawing, right?
Image used under Creative Commons from Sean
If you’ve chosen to freeze rhubarb dry, here’s what you need to do. Blanching is the first step of the process, although you might skip it if you want. Blanching helps with retaining texture and color of the rhubarb, so it’s recommended, especially if you plan to freeze it for a longer period of time. Bring a pot of water to a boil and transfer rhubarb pieces into the boiling water. After about two minutes get the rhubarb pieces from the water and cool them quickly. A pot of cold water with some ice cubes is recommended. After cooling down, let rhubarb dry. One thing to note – you might want to try freezing rhubarb without blanching. If its quality after thawing will be fine then you can always skip blanching.
Pre-freezing is another step in the process and it’s also optional. Pre-freezing prevents rhubarb pieces from freezing into large clumps that don’t allow one to scoop just a few pieces without thawing the whole contents of the freezer bag. It’s very easy to perform. Take a large tray or a baking sheet and transfer rhubarb pieces in it. Make sure the pieces don’t touch one another, so they won’t freeze into groups. Put the tray into the freezer and keep it there until the pieces are frozen. When ready, it’s time for packaging.
Transfer all the rhubarb pieces into a freezer bag, squeeze out all the air and seal the bag tightly. Now you just have to label and date the bag and put it into the freezer. Done. You can keep it in the freezer for about 6 months. If you would like to keep it frozen for a longer period of time, consider freezing rhubarb in sugar syrup.
Freezing rhubarb in sugar syrup
First thing to do is to prepare the syrup. Light sugar syrup consists of 1 cup of sugar per 3 cups of water. You can add more sugar if you wish. Sugar in the syrup is to help retain color and improve the taste of rhubarb. You can dissolve sugar in hot water, but make sure the syrup is already cold when you’ll use it for freezing. Take a freezer bag or an airtight container and transfer rhubarb pieces into it. Now pour in the sugar syrup just to cover the pieces. Stir the contents of the bag/container a little to make sure each piece is fully submerged in the syrup. If it’s a bad, squeeze out most of the air. Make sure you leave some head space, as water expands while freezing. Seal the container/bag tightly, label and date it and put into the freezer. Done. You can leave it there even for a year.
Rhubarb can be thawed in the fridge overnight or in room temperature. If you’re using it in a cooked dish (e.g. stews), you don’t have to thaw it before adding it into the dish.
As you can see freezing rhubarb isn’t that complicated. I suggest testing out both described methods and picking the one that works the best for your needs.