Pink and tangy fresh rhubarb is in season

Fresh, pink, and tangy native rhubarb is in season, so take advantage of this unique vegetable while it's in plentiful supply. Rhubarb is most often used in sauces, pies, and puddings. Shop for rhubarb with a bright, glossy appearance. The coloring should be mostly red or pink or light green with a pinkish cast. Stalks should be firm and crisp yet tender. Extremely thick stalks can be tough and stringy, although they can be peeled back like celery before cooking.

First wash rhubarb and trim away any leafy portions - the leaves of rhubarb are not for eating as they contain a high content of oxalic acid. For sauce, cut into 1-inch pieces. Bring about 3/4 cup water to a boil for each 1 1/2 pounds of rhubarb; cover and return to boil, then lower heat until water just simmers, cook and stir occasionally till tender. Stir in 3/4 cup sugar, to taste, and simmer one minute longer.

For baked rhubarb, simply dice and sprinkle layers of rhubarb with sugar to taste in baking dish; bake at 325 degrees F. for 1 hour or until tender.

To freeze rhubarb, wash and cut stalks into 1-inch or longer lengths. For best flavor and color, heat first in boiling water 1 minute and cool promptly in cold water. Pack in plastic bags or containers without sugar, allow 1/2-inch head space, seal and freeze; or pack in cold 40% syrup (3 cups sugar to 4 cups water) with sufficient head space.

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