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While rhubarb is often considered to be a fruit — especially by those who cook with it — it is actually is a vegetable. Typically, this plant does best when grown in cool climates in a shady environment. When making stewed rhubarb, it is important that cooks use only the stalk of the rhubarb plant, and avoid the leaves entirely, as they can be extremely toxic. In addition, using rhubarb stalks that have ripened completely and using the right ratio of rhubarb to sugar is essential in order to achieve optimal results when cooking stewed rhubarb.
One of the most important tips when it comes to cooking stewed rhubarb it to use the right part of the rhubarb plant. Typically, rhubarb grows in a bush with large, flat leaves that surround the rhubarb stalks. When stewing rhubarb, it is essential that only the stalks of the rhubarb plant are used, and all leaf fragments are completely removed from the rhubarb. Studies have found that the leaves of rhubarb plants are extremely toxic, and even a small amount can be highly dangerous. Typically, rhubarb that is sold in grocery stores has already been cleaned and examined, and is safe for use. Those who grow their own rhubarb, however, should use caution when picking and cleaning the product.
In order to achieve the best results when preparing stewed rhubarb, it is essential that cooks start with rhubarb that is ripe. Ripe rhubarb should boast stalks that are reddish or maroon, and stand tall and erect. While cooking with rhubarb that has not ripened fully is not toxic, it will be almost unbearably tart. Typically, the darker the rhubarb, the less tart the vegetable will be. Those who enjoy a tart stewed rhubarb should feel free to use small amounts of green rhubarb in their cooing.
To make great stewed rhubarb, it is also important that cooks use the correct ratio of rhubarb to sugar. Typically, most stewed rhubarb recipes recommend a two to one ratio of rhubarb to sugar. This ratio provides a stewed rhubarb that is tangy without being overly sour. It is important, however, that cooks experiment with varying amounts of ingredients in order to determine exactly how much sugar is preferable. Some may enjoy stewed rhubarb with smaller amounts of sugar, while others may insist on an increase in the amount of sugar in their stewed rhubarb.
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