May is the month to start looking for Michigan-grown rhubarb

This fruit is one of the signs that spring is truly here and summer is just around the corner.

Did you know that Michigan is the top state in the nation tied with Washington in rhubarb production?

Rhubarb, although technically a vegetable, is considered a fruit by consumers and is often used in making jams, jellies, pies, cobblers and sauces.  Fat free and very low in sodium, rhubarb is a good source of fiber, calcium and Vitamin C.

When buying or picking rhubarb, look for stalks that are firm and crisp.  Avoid stems that are wrinkled or limp.  At home, remove all of the leaves and wash the rhubarb in cold water until clean.  Dry and wrap the stalks in plastic wrap or food storage bags and store in the refrigerator.  Use within three to five days or freeze. 

To freeze, cut the stalks into one-to-two-inch pieces and pack them dry into freezer containers or freezer bags.  Rhubarb can also be made into a sauce, packed into clean, dry freezer containers and frozen.

One pound of rhubarb provides about five servings; two pounds is needed to make a pie.

Research tells us that meals rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some types of cancers and other chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.  Eating at least three-and-a-half cups of fruits and vegetables every day should be your goal in order to maintain good health, strong bones and high energy levels.

So add rhubarb to your spring fruit and vegetable menu and enjoy the tasty healthful benefits of this Michigan-grown product!

For more information about rhubarb including more preservation tips check out Michgan State University (MSU) Extension’s Michigan Fresh fact sheets.

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