Ashley Taborsky holding rhubarb stalk

How to harvest a rhubarb plant (without killing it)

It’s rhubarb harvest season!

If you’re looking to add an edible plant to your yard that comes back every year with minimal maintenance, look no further than rhubarb.

Rhubarb isn’t a vegetable like carrots or beets, where you only get to eat the same plant once per season.

If you know how to responsibly harvest your mature rhubarb plant, it will continue to come back year after year and actually get bigger and stronger the older it gets.

How to harvest rhubarb stalks

Harvesting rhubarb stalks takes literally seconds and requires no tools (aside from your hands).

Choose a stalk that’s about the width of your thumb or larger.

(Sure you can take & eat stalks smaller than this, but it’s kind of like harvesting carrots when they’re only an inch or two long – why not wait and enjoy a bigger harvest later?)

thumb by rhubarb stalk

Wrap one hand firmly around the base of a single stalk, and make one swift pull upwards. You’ll hear a tear/pop noise as it separates clean away from the base of the plant.

The end of the stalk where it separated from the rest of the plant will have a small amount of light brown, tissue paper-like material.

close-up on end of rhubarb stalk

Remove that bit, then cut off the leaf attached the the rhubarb stalk on the opposite end, & you’re ready to prepare it however you prefer.

Here’s a video of me pulling a few stalks off of my backyard rhubarb plant. 

Over harvesting is a fast way to completely kill rhubarb, so I generally harvest conservatively. Unless it’s a massive plant, you don’t want to harvest more than a few stalks at once from a single rhubarb.

As long as you don’t over harvest it, this low-maintenance edible perennial should come back year after year for you to enjoy.

One of my favorite rhubarb recipes is a berry rhubarb jam – yum!

Ashley Taborsky holding rhubarb stalk