Rhubarb (Rheum Palmatum) has a long history of being revered in many cultures for it’s culinary and medicinal value. It is perennial, meaning you plant it one time and it regrows every year. Native to Central Asia and Siberia, rhubarb became a mainstay in ancient Chinese medicine. It is still highly valued and sought after for general health, as well as specific ailments related to digestive health.
The knowledge of rhubarb then migrated to Europe, where it was prized and cultivated for it's unique flavor. Along with the popular flavor of desserts like strawberry rhubarb pie, the stalks contain an surprisingly impressive amount up of nutrients and antioxidants. (The leaves, however, contain high levels of oxalate, and should not be consumed. In fact, the leaves should be cut off before being stored in refrigeration because the cold temperature may cause the high oxalate levels to migrate back into the stalks.)
We commonly think of rhubarb as a ingredient for baked goods, but the Chinese culture swore by its medicinal benefits, and the Europeans followed suit. At one point, it was much more expensive to buy rhubarb than cinnamon in France, and it was double the price of opium in England. In 1770 Benjamin Franklin introduced rhubarb seeds to the Quakers on the American East Coast.
The ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ is a 9-square-mile area in West Yorkshire that is famous for a technique called forced rhubarb production. The rhubarb is grown outdoors are moved into completely dark and heated sheds after the November frost, which causes the carbohydrates to turn into glucose, producing a sweeter taste and a deeper red color. The sheds produce enough silence, and cause the rhubarb to grow so quickly, that it makes an audible noise. It is the only place in the world where rhubarb can be heard growing, or "singing" --> The Sound of Rhubarb Growing. During peak production (before 1939), the ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ produced up to 200 tons of rhubarb daily.
7 Health Benefits
• One cup of rhubarb contains just as much calcium as milk
• The red stalks are rich in B vitamins: folate, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid.
• Lessons inflammation in the liver associated with alcohol induced liver disease (study)
• One serving of rhubarb provides 45% of the daily value of Vitamin K: regulates blood clotting, healthy bone growth and neuron function in the brain
• Contains vitamin A and C - antioxidants for immune health, fighting inflammation, healthy skin, eye health, and possible protection against various cancers
• Excellent source of minerals, including 32% of the daily value of manganese per serving, along with iron, potassium, and phosphorus. Manganese is an antioxidant, supports skin health, and helps regulate blood sugar