Rhubarb is a vegetable with a unique taste that makes it a favorite in many pies and desserts. It originated in Asia over 2,000 years ago. It was initially cultivated for its medicinal qualities, it was not until the 18th century that rhubarb was grown for culinary purposes in Britain and America. Rhubarb is often commonly mistaken to be a fruit but rhubarb is actually a close relative of garden sorrel, and is therefore a member of the vegetable family. Rhubarb is rich in vitamin C and dietary fiber.
Rhubarb is a perennial plant (the kind that grows from year to year) which forms large fleshy rhizomes and large leaves with long, thick (and tasty) petioles (stalks). Rhubarb stalks are commonly found in supermarkets, fresh rhubarb is prized by gourmet cooks. Some folks say the finest quality rhubarb is grown in Michigan, Ontario, Canada, and other northern states in the United States. Fresh rhubarb is available from early winter through early summer. Winter rhubarb is commercially produced in forcing houses in Michigan and Ontario.