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Belonging to the buckwheat family, Marco Polo brought rhubarb from Asia to Europe, where Ben Franklin sent it to the US while he was visiting France. Dating back to 2700 B.C., rhubarb was primarily used for medicinal purposes, and was so highly prized, it was more valuable than cinnamon and opium in Europe in the 1600-1700s.
Young rhubarb stalks can be tart; however, the ruby stalks get sweeter as they mature and intensify in color. Resembling celery, the stalks are used primarily for pies and other deserts, but are quite tasty churned into ice cream, mixed with blueberries and peaches for a fruit salad, or blended with strawberries for mouth-watering cocktails, jams, wines or sauces. The flowers can be eaten raw or fried, but don’t eat the leaves or roots, which are quite toxic if consumed. In fact, boiling the leaves can produce a natural insecticide to keep pests out of your garden, while the stalks can be used for dye. Amazing versatile, the stalks are also used for animal feed, and the fibers are used to make paper products.
Rhubarb is astonishingly packed with nutrients and vitamins B complex, C, and K, and rich in calcium, potassium, manganese, mangnesium, beta-carotene, lutein and zexanthin. High in fiber and protein, this health powerhouse aids digestion, helps weight loss, prevents Alzheimer’s disease, and gum disease, promotes bone growth, enhances the skin, prevents cancer, increases circulation and heals cardiovascular issues.
Rhubarb seeds grow best in cooler regions where the temperatures in winter don’t rise above 40º , or above 75º in the summer. Order St. Clare Heirloom rhubarb seeds for a unique addition to your garden!
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