Jul 6, 2023
Rhubarb is a versatile ingredient in tarts, pies, salsas, and even cocktails and smoothies. It’s like a tart celery that goes well with almost anything yet is cheaper compared to celery and asparagus. Especially when it’s in season and on sale. However, it doesn’t store well and looks intimidating when you don’t know how to cook with it – yet. It also needs a bit of preparation before you get to cook with it. So here’s how to freeze-dry rhubarb so you can buy it in bulk and have it ready to use whenever you need it.
There are many benefits why you need to freeze-dry rhubarb.
How long does a bunch of rhubarb last in the fridge? Unwashed and wrapped, your veggie can last for 3 weeks. But if you freeze dry rhubarb, it can last for 25 years if stored properly.
If you store rhubarb for too long, it will become tough, stringy, and unpleasant to eat. However, when you completely freeze-dry, your crimson stalks will always be edible for years.
When you pack your vegetable after freeze-drying, you can easily portion to how much you can take for the day. It’s easier to avoid cooking too much and have enough that your stomach can tolerate.
Freeze-dried rhubarb goes well with any recipe, meal, or beverage. You can easily use it in pies, sauces, and smoothies.
No more wasting time in the kitchen each time you use freeze-dried rhubarb. You can simply open a pack or jar, and it’s ready to cook or eat.
Choosing the right rhubarb can do wonders for your freeze-dried food supply. The best month to pick rhubarb Is around April, May, and early summer.
Go for medium stalks that are deep red in color. The deeper the color, the more flavor you’ll get. You can get large stalks, but they’re stringy and less tender than the medium ones. Avoid wilted, woody, and unnaturally thick ones because they don’t flavor your dish.
Prep work is essential to get the best results for freeze-drying rhubarb.
Remove all the leaves and cut out the wooden parts. Wash the crimson stalks until they’re fully clean and free from debris.
Then slice the vegetable into small pieces, around 1/4 to 3/4 inch in size. Similar to how you would cut your celery. This will make it easier to use for cooking and freeze-drying.
Blanching benefits rhubarb in many ways:
When you blanch your vegetable, make sure you have a lot of ice, a big heavy bottom pot, and a perforated spoon. Once you got all the materials ready, it’s time to blanch your stalks.
You mustn’t let your rhubarb sit in water for too long, even after blanching. It will re-absorb all that moisture and turn into a soft mush.
The lip-puckering tartness of rhubarb can be too much for some. So, others pre-soak the vegetable after cutting it in sugar water to “sweeten” it. But, of course, this means you’ll also be preserving that extra sugar.
Artificial sweeteners are a no-go. They don’t freeze dry well and give your food weird flavor and texture.
At this point, you can pre-freeze your rhubarb for later use. This is, of course, optional but would benefit your freeze dryer immensely. By freezing, you shorten the freezing cycle in the machine. The large ice crystals formed will also make it easy for your Harvest Right freeze dryer to remove the moisture from your food.
When you pre-freeze, line the trays with parchment paper or a silicone mat. This will help keep the crimson stalks from sticking. Remember that if your food is cold, so should your trays and chamber. Before you load the trays, let the freeze dryer chamber cool to -8°F (-22 °C) or lower. A stable environment means an efficient system for freeze-drying.
Got everything ready? Is your freeze dryer free? Then let’s start freeze drying.
Freeze-drying rhubarb can take 14-26 hours, depending on how much food you’re freeze-drying and other factors.
You can use mason jars or mylar bags for storing rhubarb. As long as both are tightly sealed and stored in a cool, dark place, they’re perfect for short-term or long-term storage. Remember to use 1-2 of the 300cc packets of oxygen absorbers before sealing. This will help remove any residual oxygen left inside the free space in your containers. Keep the storage location cooler than 72°F (22 °C) and maintain a relative humidity level of 15% or less.
Freeze-drying rhubarb may take a while when it comes to preparation. However, once you’re done, you have food that you can use for your recipes with minimal prep. You have food that’s free of preservatives, full of nutrition, and easy to eat.
How much rhubarb do you plan to freeze dry? Let us know in the comment section.
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