How to freeze rhubarb

Got a glut of rhubarb? Find out how to freeze raw, blanched or cooked rhubarb so you can defrost it later for use in recipes including rhubarb crumble, pies, fools and smoothies.

Rhubarb crumble in an oven dish

The rhubarb season in the UK runs for much of the year – in January paler pink, tender, forced rhubarb (grown indoors in the dark) is available, then in April darker red, coarser outdoor rhubarb comes in. The season officially ends in July but rhubarb is often available later than that, depending on the weather. 

Make the most of the season with these rhubarb recipe ideas

Why freeze rhubarb

If you have a crown of rhubarb then you’ll be supplied all spring and summer so if you don’t want to eat rhubarb all the time freezing is a good option. Or you may love rhubarb and want a supply through autumn, in which case buy when the price drops and freeze for later. 

As the season progresses the rhubarb will get more fibrous so take account of this when choosing how to freeze it – cooking it fully first will probably be a better option. One thing to note if you grow rhubarb is that the leaves can be toxic as they contain oxalic acid, so make sure you trim them off completely and discard them.

You can freeze rhubarb raw, blanched or fully cooked. Regardless of which stage you choose to freeze at, the rhubarb will break down more as it defrosts so is best used in dishes where you don’t need neat sticks of it. Pies, crumbles, smoothies, fools and sauces for savoury dishes all work well with frozen rhubarb as it won’t matter if extra liquid is given off. Avoid making cakes or muffins unless your defrosted rhubarb is very dry or they may end up soggy.

Rhubarb syllabub

Freezing raw rhubarb

Choose crisp, firm stalks for this method. 

  1. Trim the rhubarb of stringy bits and cut into short lengths, if the stalks are very fat then cut them lengthways into pieces so they freeze more evenly. 
  2. For loose pieces of rhubarb, spread the pieces in a single layer on lined trays and open freeze them. 
  3. Once frozen, tip the pieces into containers or bags. Otherwise, if you are not worried about them sticking together, freeze them straight into the container or bags. Use within three months.

Freezing blanched rhubarb 

  1. Blanch rhubarb in boiling water for 1 min, then scoop straight into ice cold water to cool immediately. 
  2. Drain really well and spread out on a clean tea towel to dry. 
  3. For loose pieces of rhubarb, spread the pieces in a single layer on lined trays and open freeze them. 
  4. Once frozen, tip the pieces into containers or bags. Otherwise, if you are not worried about them sticking together, freeze them straight into the containers or bags. Use within six months.

Cooking rhubarb before freezing

The simplest way to freeze rhubarb is to cook it gently first.

Stewed rhubarb

  1. Tip the rhubarb into a pan with a little liquid (water or freshly squeezed orange juice work well), and add a sprinkling of sugar. Rhubarb can be quite tart so you may need 15-30g sugar per 100g rhubarb; start with 15g and add more later if you need to. You can also add other flavours, such as ginger, at this stage.
  2. Simmer until it is completely tender, add more sugar at this stage if you need to. Cool completely, then freeze in portions in containers or bags.

Bowls of stewed rhubarb with vanilla ice cream

Roasted rhubarb

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Trim and cut 500g rhubarb into little finger-sized pieces. Put in a shallow dish, sprinkle over 80g caster sugar, toss together, then arrange the rhubarb in a single layer.
  2. Cover with foil and roast for 15 mins. Remove the foil and roast for another 5 mins or until tender and the juices are syrupy. The rhubarb should still have kept its shape. Cool and freeze in a container.

Defrosting rhubarb

To defrost, leave the frozen rhubarb out for several hours. If you want the pieces to keep their shape don’t move them around until they are full defrosted. Fully cooked rhubarb will break down even more as if defrosts.

Recipes that can be made with frozen rhubarb

Use defrosted frozen raw or blanched rhubarb for this luscious crumble; leave out the port, if you prefer.
Rhubarb crumble

Rhubarb makes a delicious layer in a light summer dessert. Use defrosted raw or blanched and roast it, or use roasted and frozen.
Rhubarb and custard crunch

Use defrosted, frozen raw rhubarb to make this pink gin.
Rhubarb gin

A slump makes a good alternative to a crumble, use defrosted raw or blanched rhubarb for this and add more sugar if you need to.
Rhubarb and orange slump

Try rhubarb in a savoury setting with this sauce for lamb; use defrosted blanched or raw rhubarb.
Russian shashlik rhubarb sauce

Lamb kebabs with rhubarb sauce

More rhubarb inspiration:

How to cook rhubarb  
10 best rhubarb recipes
Our rhubarb recipe collection 
How to stew rhubarb

What’s your favourite way to cook rhubarb? Let us know in the comments below. 

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