Freezing rhubarb is the easiest way to preserve rhubarb.
If you’re growing rhubarb in your back garden, chances are you’ll have more than you can manage. One never seems to have just “a little” rhubarb, in the same way that no one ever grows just “a few” zucchini.
We started out with just a few rhubarb crowns, but the roots are divided every three to five years and now we have quite the rhubarb plantation. Add in the fact that rhubarb readily grows from seed (if you don’t break off the seed heads), and we could easily supply half the neighborhood.
The problem is, everyone around here has their own rhubarb patch, and everyone’s buried in it for a few weeks each spring. It’s a short lived problem, as rhubarb only has a short season before it gets stringy and bitter.
Later on in the year, especially mid winter, I’d give anything for a bit of rhubarb for a homemade pie.
If you’re like me, you find yourself asking….Can you freeze rhubarb?
Can you Freeze Rhubarb?
Rhubarb freezes beautifully, and it’s perfectly fine to freeze either raw rhubarb or cooked rhubarb.
Though in a technical sense, it doesn’t require any specific preparation, there are a few ways to ensure you have the best quality rhubarb when you go to defrost your stores later.
Blanching rhubarb ensures that is stores for longer (without degrading), and flash freezing rhubarb chunks on a tray prevent them from freezing together into a clump.
How to Freeze Rhubarb
When you’re freezing vegetables, most instructions suggest blanching before freezing. The enzymes in raw vegetables are still active, and they continue to work even at freezer temperatures. If you freeze vegetables without blanching then they’ll slowly lose quality.
If you only intend to freeze rhubarb for a few months, this really isn’t an issue. If you plan to keep rhubarb in the freezer for more than 3 months, I’d suggest blanching it for best results.
Either way, start by removing the leaves from the rhubarb and chop it into manageable pieces. I like to slice it into 1/2 inch pieces because that’s what I prefer for my favorite Amish Rhubarb Custard Pie.
To blanch rhubarb, dip it in rhubarb pieces in boiling water for 1 minute and then remove with a slotted spoon. Scoop them out and drop them into ice water immediately to stop the cooking process. This will keep them from falling apart, as cooked rhubarb tends to disintegrate if it’s left hot or cooking too long.
(Or, skip the blanching and go straight to flash freezing, which is fine for short term freezer storage.)
Once cool, drain the ice water and spread the rhubarb pieces on a paper towel or kitchen towel to dry completely. If they go into the freezer soaking wet they’re more likely to freezer burn. Giving them about 20 to 30 minutes to dry will really improve their freezer storage.
Once dry, spread the rhubarb on a baking tray. This is also optional, but if the rhubarb is flash frozen in separate pieces it’ll be easier to work with when thawed. If you pack it directly into a bag it’ll freeze into a clump.
Place the baking tray in the freezer and allow the rhubarb to freeze until solid. I leave mine overnight, but I imagine 6 hours is probably enough.
Once frozen, it’s time to pack it into storage containers. There are a lot of options here, and the easiest is probably regular Ziploc freezer bags.
Personally, I’m a big fan of vacuum sealer bags as they really help to maintain produce (and meat) in top quality in the freezer.
Take the flash frozen rhubarb and load it into the container of your choice.
Freezer safe mason jars work, as do freezer safe Tupperware containers. (Mason jars also work really well for freezing cooked rhubarb, as in stewed rhubarb sauce, but just be sure you’re using freezer safe jars as not all mason jars are approved for freezer use.)
Since I’m using vacuum sealer bags, I then process them with my food saver vacuum sealer.
How Long Does Rhubarb Last in the Freezer?
Properly frozen rhubarb that is packed well and blanched before freezing will keep for 1 year. If you pack it losely (rather than vacuum pack) it may freezer burn before that and degrade in quality, lasting only about 8 months.
Raw rhubarb that’s not blanched before freezing degrades much faster, and it’s only good for about 3 months.
For the best frozen rhubarb, blanch quickly for one minute, then flash freeze on baking trays and store in vacuum sealed bags.
Ways to Preserve Rhubarb
Looking for more easy ways to preserve rhubarb? While freezing rhubarb is definitely the most versatile, it’s not the only way to put up a bumper crop of rhubarb.