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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.

Frosty Rhubarb

Well,  after a historically warm March, spring showed up.  This week we've seen at least 3 nights with frost.  While we are nearing our average last frost date, more cold nights are possible. 

Rhubarb is a popular early season crop.  It has vibrant color, acidic taste, and holds up well to cold.  In fact, it even requires a chilling winter period in order to produce in the following season.  However, there is some concern about eating rhubarb that has been frozen outside.

The leaves of rhubarb contain oxalic acid, a potential toxin to humans.  After frost if you see dark spots in leaves or along leaf edges,  these are signs of cell death.  Dead cells leak out fluids that can get down into the edible part of the plant. 

If stems are no longer turgid, that is they feel soft and squishy, discard them.  Wait until new growth has occurred to eat that part of the plant.  On the other hand, if stems feel firm and normal, there is little risk from oxalic acid.

Happy spring eating!

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