How do you know when green rhubarb is ripe?

Answered by Antonio Sutton

To determine when green rhubarb is ripe, it’s important to consider the size of the stalks and the condition of the leaves. Generally, the stalks should be between 7 to 15 inches long before harvesting. This length indicates that the plant has had enough time to develop and mature properly. However, it’s crucial to note that the size may vary depending on the specific variety of rhubarb you’re growing.

When assessing the ripeness of green rhubarb, avoid relying solely on the color of the stems. Unlike red rhubarb, which turns vibrant red when fully ripe, green rhubarb can remain green even when it’s ready for harvest. This is because certain varieties of green rhubarb naturally retain their green hue even at maturity. Therefore, solely relying on stem color may lead to an inaccurate judgment of ripeness.

Instead, focus on the leaves of the rhubarb plant. Once the leaves have fully opened and are in their mature state, it’s a good indication that the rhubarb stalks are ready for harvest. The leaves play a vital role in the growth and development of the plant. They provide the necessary energy through photosynthesis, allowing the stalks to reach their full potential.

A good rule of thumb is to wait until the leaves have unfurled completely and are large and healthy-looking. If the leaves are still tightly wrapped and smaller in size, it may be an indication that the rhubarb plant is not yet mature enough for harvest.

Observing the overall health of the plant can also provide insights into the readiness of the stalks. Ensure that the rhubarb plant is well-established and has had enough time to grow. A healthy rhubarb plant with strong, robust leaves is more likely to produce ripe stalks.

When harvesting, use a sharp knife or garden shears to cut the stalks off at the base. It’s essential to avoid pulling or twisting the stalks, as this can cause damage to the plant. Leaving a few stalks behind during harvest can help sustain the plant’s growth for future harvesting.

Determining the ripeness of green rhubarb involves assessing the length of the stalks and the condition of the leaves. The size of the stalks should fall within the range of 7 to 15 inches, while the leaves should be fully opened and healthy-looking. Remember that stem color alone is not a reliable indicator of ripeness, particularly for green varieties of rhubarb. By considering these factors, you can ensure that your green rhubarb is harvested at the optimal time for the best flavor and texture.