The first time I ate a rhubarb pie was, of all place, on an airplane. I don't even remember where I was going, but as a native Israeli, I had never tasted rhubarb before. It took a few more years, until I moved to New York, to eat it again; but I never forgot the flavor.
This week I am getting a bushel of rhubarb from my farmer and plan to make compote, pies, muffins and just freeze chopped rhubarb to use later in the summer and fall. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE RHUBARB.
But what is rhubarb anyway? A few facts:
1. Rhubarb is a plant that is usually available fresh in the spring and early summer.
2. We eat only the stems of Rhubarb, the leaves are toxic.
3. Rhubarb is a vegetable.
4. No matter if is light or dark pink, Rhubarb is very tart, and often mixed with berries or some kind of sweetener in desserts.
We liked The Pioneer Woman blog post entitled Rhubarb 101 for more information.
So how can you get kids excited about rhubarb? A smelling, sensory or taste test is always fun. "Tests" are a good way to familiarize kids with different aspects of a food, and children who are less adventurous eaters may be more comfortable using their hands or their noses to get to know a fruit or a vegetable. In this case we offer three tests, they all need to be done with their eyes closed or with a blindfold.
The first step before we stop using our eyes is to give them a rhubarb stalk and introduce them to it. Tell them to inspect it with their eyes, hands, nose, and if they like, their mouth.
You, as the adult, can conduct the tests; but if you have more than one child around, they can do it with each other. It is one of our favorite food related games!
First Step: Sensory Test, Rhubarb vs. Celery
Give them a celery stalk and a rhubarb stalk. Using only their hands, have them determine which is which.
Second Step: Smelling Test, Rhubarb vs. Strawberry
Before they close their eyes, give them a piece of strawberry to smell and a piece or rhubarb to smell. Have them close their eyes and let them smell either the strawberry or the rhubarb; Can they guess what each one is?
Third Step: Taste Test, Rhubarb vs. Granny Smith Apple
Before they're ready to taste blindfolded, slice little pieces of a Granny Smith apple and slices of rhubarb. let them taste each. Now blindfolded have them taste one of them and see if they were right!
After they've gotten to know rhubarb a bit better using different senses, here is a fantastic recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Preserves that can be enjoyed for months after the season is over.