|Our Finished Rhubarb (Smoked)|
Rhubarb (Smoked) – I will make a confession: I don’t like rhubarb, a spring to early summer perennial vegetable, on its own, likely due to the very tart flavor. I do, however, enjoy this vegetable smoked and then blended with a sweet fruit.
This is likely why you may not have realized that rhubarb is a perennial vegetable since this is so widely used for dessert items. The rhubarb stalks are suitable to eat but the leaves are poisonous meaning they should never be eaten or added to a smoothie. Since this is a tart vegetable, I am going to first smoke it to change the balance of that tartness. Later, I plan to use these smoked stalks in combination with some smoked strawberry to make a strawberry-rhubarb fool, a delicious treat or dessert.
For now, let’s get about a pound of fresh rhubarb, hopefully from a garden or a fresh market, and meet at the smoker for an easy method of infusing wood flavoring to this tart stalk vegetable.
Selecting and Preparing
Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that prefers cold conditions to thrive. When first planted, you won’t be able to harvest any of the stalks until the second year, similar to growing asparagus. When ready to harvest, you’re looking for stalks 12 to 18-inches in length with good girth to them. If the stalks are too thin, that means the plant does not have enough nutrients.
Once harvested, clean well under water and pat dry. Trim all the leave ends from the stalks as these are poisonous, and discard. Note you can compost the leaves as the poisonous oxalic acid breaks down quickly when decomposition begins.
I prefer to cut my stalks into 3-4-inch lengths. That’s it! Likely one of the easiest vegetables to prepare for the smoker. Speaking of the smoker, time to prepare ours. I’ll be using an electric smoker today since smoking rhubarb takes very little time.
Tasting Notes: Whether to cut the stalks is dependent on what you plan to do with the rhubarb so adjust this step according to your planned recipe.
Fire Up the Smoker!
I’ll be using a standard vertical electric smoker that uses lava rocks as the radiator of the heat as well as an electric element as the fuel/heat source. My electric smoker allows me to use wood chunks so I have an assortment of small sizes that total about 6 ounces of hardwood. The double filet wood chunk size is ideal and as a tip, if you note to SmokinLicious® the need for thin chunks, these can be provided.
My set up is simple: I wrap one of my grill grates in aluminum foil, place my element on the lava rocks and insert wood chunks between the element’s spaces. I’m using a combination of maple and cherry hardwood. I add my water pan with about 2-inches of hot water so energy from the unit isn’t wasted heating up the water. On goes my tray of pre-cut rhubarb that are spaced to allow the smoke to penetrate all around. Leave these untouched on the smoker for about 20-25 minutes or until the thickest stalks are fork tender.
The best part about rhubarb on the smoker is it takes very little effort. Trim, clean, and cut to size then place on the grate and smoke. In about 15 minutes time, you’ll see a golden hue come out of the rhubarb pieces. That means the smoke has penetrated its great flavor. Using a fork or the tip of a paring knife, I check the thickest stalk to be sure I can easily pass the metal tip thru. If so, then the rhubarb is tender and ready to come off the smoker.
What’s your favorite method of cooking rhubarb? Leave us a comment to opine and subscribe to get all our postings on tips, techniques and recipes. Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.