Do you have Rhubarb growing in your garden? If you do, you may notice that as your plant matures, it will send up flower stalks. Just as with any plant, its purpose is to try and reproduce itself. Sending up flower stalks and going to seed is what the plant hopes to do. Plant maturity is just one reason your Rhubarb might be bolting. Other reasons include stress, heat or lack of nutrients. Lastly, some heirloom varieties have more of a tendency to bolt than newer varieties.
So what are you to do with your bolting Rhubarb? It does not mean that your Rhubarb harvest is over for the season, but you will want to remove any flower heads as soon as you see them. When a plant is beginning to send flower stalks, it will spend less of it's energy on the parts you eat...the stalks. Simply cut out the flower stalks when you see them emerge. You may need to do this multiple times throughout the season.
If you have a very mature Rhubarb plant with multiple crowns, you will want to consider dividing it early next spring. This is usually done every six or so years. Dividing your Rhubarb will help the plant to continue to leaf out vigorously and send up fewer flower stalks, that is until it reaches maturity again. If you do not want or need multiple Rhubarb plants in your garden, find a friend or two to share your divisions with. To learn more about dividing your Rhubarb, you can read this article from Spokane County Master Gardeners: Rhubarb Care.
Now that you have removed all of your flower stalks, it's time to harvest some of those beautiful stalks of Rhubarb and make some tasty recipes. What is your favorite Rhubarb recipe? Last year our family discovered this easy recipe for a Rhubarb Syrup that couldn't be simpler! It uses three simple ingredients - Rhubarb, Water and Sugar. The ingredients are cooked in a saucepan at a simmer for about 20 minutes. We enjoyed this syrup added to sparkling water. If you simmer the syrup longer, you will create a thicker syrup that can be used on pancakes or waffles.
The recipe for this Rhubarb Syrup comes from Tori Avery's Blog.
2 lbs Rhubarb, chopped into small pieces
4 cups water
1 3/4 cups sugar
Place chopped Rhubarb in a large saucepan. Add water to Rhubarb. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Skim off any foam that develops. When finished, strain rhubarb through a wire mesh strainer.
Place the strained juice from the Rhubarb back into a saucepan and add the sugar. Bring to a boil to allow the sugar to dissolve. Simmer for five minutes (or longer if you would like a thicker syrup). Allow syrup to cool and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
(Note: This recipe is not approved for canning)