Rhubarb - Rūpapa

Rhubarb is considered a fruit because it is usually eaten as a dessert, but it is actually a vegetable.

Thought to be a native of Tibet, rhubarb is the leaf stalk (or petiole) of a perennial plant. The leaves are not eaten as they are poisonous.

What to look for

Look for firm, red glossy stalks that are crisp and showing no signs of wilting.


Available: all year
Limited supply: July to August


Refrigerate in paper bags.

How to prepare

Remove leaves. Wash young rhubarb stalks and cut into equal lengths. Older, thicker rhubarb needs any coarse strings to be peeled off before slicing. Do not eat the leaves as they are poisonous.

Ways to eat

Rhubarb can be stewed with a little sugar and eaten as a dessert. It can be used in muffins, cakes, jams, flans or in crumbles, in place of, or in addition to, apple. 

Cooking methods

Bake, braise, stew.


Rhubarb is one of the highest calcium containing vegetables; however, calcium absorption may be inhibited by the presence of oxalic acid which is also found in rhubarb. Cooking can reduce the effect of oxalic acid. Rhubarb is a good source of vitamin C, a source of dietary fibre and calcium, and contains potassium at dietary significant levels.

Nutrition table

RHUBARB Raw      
Nutrition Information        
Serving size: 1 cup diced = 130g      
  Average Quantity % Daily Intake per serve Average Quantity  
per serving per 100g  
Energy (kJ/Cal) 64/15 1% 49/12  
Protein (g) 0.8 2% 0.6  
Fat, total (g) 0.3 0% 0.2  
 - saturated (g) 0.0 0% 0.0  
Available carbohydrate (g) 1.3 0% 1.0  
 - sugars (g) 1.3 1% 1.0  
Dietary Fibre (g) 2.3   1.8 A source of dietary fibre
Sodium (mg) 2.6 0% 2  
Vitamin C (mg)  13 33% RDI* 10.0 A good source of vitamin C
Calcium (mg)  134 17% RDI* 103 A source of calcium
Potassium (mg)  579   445 Contains potassium
Iron (mg) 0.5 4% RDI* 0.4  
Percentage Daily Intakes are based on an average adult diet of 8700 kJ  
Your daily Intakes may be higher or lower depending on your energy needs 
 *Recommended Dietary Intake (Average Adult)  
Source: FOODfiles 2018        



Display rhubarb on refrigerated shelving. Place heads in one direction for the most effective display. Use QR code on labels.

Store at 0ºC with a relative humidity of 95-100%. Rhubarb is ethylene sensitive so store separately from ethylene producing fruits and vegetables.

Purchase rhubarb with the New Zealand GAP logo.