This Is How To Properly Prepare Rhubarb For Baking

If you've been desperately searching for someone to thank for the rhubarb pies and rhubarb sauces that made your childhood just the right amount of sweet, you can almost certainly thank a woman. Mainer, Martha Ballard, for example, is a prime candidate. Maine Boats reports that in the midwife's late 18th-century diary she wrote about the root vegetable 23 times. Mostly, she wrote about rhubarb as a medicine. One of those times, she wrote about a tart.

Ballard, by any account, was a badass. Not only did she give birth to nine children in the course of her life, but out of an estimated 1,000 births that she facilitated, often crossing ice-filled rivers in snow and hail to do so, she lost only five mothers and twenty babies (via University of Houston). Suffice to say, Ballard deserved a little something sweet at the end of the day. So next time you pick up a batch of rhubarb from your local market, why not pay Ballard some homage by preparing your rhubarb the right way. 

Three steps to simple rhubarb preparation

How can you prepare your rhubarb in a way that Martha Ballard would approve of? Better Homes and Gardens advises to pick the crispiest, firmest, and most tender stalks that you can find. To pick the best of the best, your stalks should be no more than two inches in width (the slenderer the stalk, the tenderer it tends to be). From there, follow three cardinal rules to a perfectly prepped rhubarb.

First, never eat any of the leaves. As Tablespoon explains, these contain oxalic acid in toxic amounts. Second, if your stalks are on the tougher side, use a vegetable peeler to make them more tender. Third, clean your rhubarb up. If you haven't washed it yet, do so. And, if you find blemishes on your stalks, take them off with the help of a knife or a vegetable peeler.

That's it! The BBC recommends that if you're planning on baking your rhubarb, you should cut them up into cube-like pieces and sprinkle your rhubarb pieces with sugar before sticking them in the oven. Alternatively, you can poach your rhubarb in much the same way.