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Rhubarb ... okay to eat?

Would it be okay to pick the last lot of rhubarb and how would you know if it is not good to eat due to the oxalic acid, please?


  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,442
    I wouldn't eat it if its woody.  If you have to peel it its  past its best, better left to build up strength for next year. Don't eat the green leaves.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,989
    How do you mean ‘last lot’ of rhubarb?

    I don’t usually pick rhubarb after the beginning of July, but I grow an early variety and it can begin to toughen later in the season. Also I’m careful to allow the crown long enough to build up before the winter. 

    My understanding is that the thing about oxalic acid in the stalks later in the season is an old wives tale. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • I haven't picked as much rhubarb as I should. I didn't mean that I wanted to pick all that was left on the plant ... but there is quite a lot and wondered about picking half a dozen sticks or so.
    I'm it sure what you mean by being 'careful to allow the crown long enough to build up before the winter'? 🙂
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,989
    edited July 2022
    When the leaves die down some of the nutrition/energy from them is absorbed back into the crown. If you over-pick the crown can become exhausted and not have enough energy to grow well the following year. That’s why I don’t pick after the end of June. 

    There is no ‘should’ as to the amount of rhubarb to pick in a season … you needn’t pick any at all 😉

    If you’d had the high temperatures we’ve had in the east, which could’ve stressed the plant, I wouldn’t pick any now … but I think you’re in the southwest, so if you fancy a crumble this weekend you can pick a few sticks… bearing in mind that it won’t be as sweet and tender as the sticks picked earlier in the season. They might be a bit stringy and tough.  But I wouldn’t pick more this year after that. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Thank you both! 🙂
  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,252
    We pick the last pickable stalks about now to make Chutney with. The stronger flavour is very good for that.
  • Thank you - I will see what they are like. 🙂
  • pinutpinut Posts: 190
    Like most deciduous trees, rhubarb grown under normal sun light (I'm not talking about forced rhubarb) have two flushes of growth: the first in spring, the second in mid summer with a short rest inbetween.

    As long as the crowns are established and healthy, you can pick the stalks completely clean (leaving just the crowns visible) in early summer and they will grow again.

    A second picking can be had by mid autumn but this time pick only the outer stalks leaving a few of the younger inner stalks, say, 3-5 stalks to indicate the health of the plants over winter.

    In case you are new to rhubarb, picking means to break off the stalk at the base of the rhubarb crown. Do not cut the stalk leaving a stub behind as the stub will rot back and may infect the crown.

  • Thank you! 🙂
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