Rhubarb, a beautiful pink and chartreuse stalk with large non-edible leaves, sprouts up in early spring, faithfully returning year after year. Its popularity has waxed and waned over the centuries but with today’s current trend to buy fresh and eat locally, rhubarb is readily available at farmers markets and grocery stores around the state.

Interesting facts about rhubarb:

1. It is a vegetable and not a fruit. It is often prepared as a fruit

and found in pies, sauces and baked goods. It is often served with strawberries whose sweet flavor compliments the tartness of the rhubarb.

2. Another name for rhubarb is “pie plant.”

3. Rhubarb is rich in vitamins A and C, potassium and calcium. One cup of cooked rhubarb contains as much calcium as a glass of milk.

4. Rhubarb is high in fiber (five grams per cup) and low in fat and calories and is cholesterol free.

5. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid which is a toxic compound. Never eat the leaves.

6. Rhubarb is very easy to grow and takes little care.

7. Its tart taste makes it a wonderful compliment to meat, poultry and fish dishes.

8. Fresh picked rhubarb can be stored in the refrigerator for three to five days or cut and frozen for future use.

9. Due to its high acidic levels, when cooking rhubarb use non-reactive cookware like Teflon or stainless steel to avoid cookware “staining.”

10. Except for asparagus, rhubarb is the only other vegetable that grows continuously. All other vegetables need to be sown each spring.

With today's health concerns and our desire to reduce our sugar consumption eating rhubarb (as a fruit) may be on the endangered list. Don’t let this gem of a vegetable go to waste. Give this delicious chili recipe a try this spring.

Rhubarb Chili


2-pounds ground meat (beef, pork or turkey or combination)

2 medium onions, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cans (10 oz. size) beef broth

1 can (28 oz. size) diced tomatoes

1/3 cup raisins

1 tsp. chili powder

1 1/2 tbsps. vinegar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. allspice

2 cups chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen rhubarb)

2 cans (10 oz. size) black beans, (with liquid)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup water, including 3 tbsps. corn starch mixed in, for thickening chili

Grated cheese, for garnish (optional)


1. In a large pan, over medium heat, brown the meat, onion and garlic until done. Drain.

2. Add the broth, tomatoes, raisins, chili powder, vinegar, salt, and allspice, and stir to combine, and bring mixture to a boil.

3. Reduce heat, and allow to simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.

4. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir in the rhubarb and the beans, and return to a simmer, allowing mixture to cook for about 15 minutes, or until the rhubarb is tender.

5. To thicken chili, bring mixture back to a boil, and stir in the water with the dissolved corn starch, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to maintain boiling for about 3 - 4 minutes, then remove from heat.

Makes 8 - 10 servings.

Recipe adapted from

Lenelle Bear, MEd, is the Western Capital Nutrition Links coordinator for the Family and Consumer Science Team, Penn State Extension, Cumberland County.

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