Can You Eat Raw Rhubarb Stalks?

AJ in the Kitchen Food and Wine Journal Rhubarb Crisp


Rhubarb is a popular plant that is widely used in cooking and baking. It is known for its tart taste and bright red color. However, many people wonder if rhubarb can be eaten raw. In this article, we will explore whether or not it is safe to eat raw rhubarb stalks.

What is Rhubarb?

Rhubarb is a vegetable that is often used in sweet dessert dishes, such as pies and crumbles. It is known for its tart, almost sour taste, which is due to the high levels of oxalic acid in the plant. Rhubarb is also known for its bright red color, which comes from the presence of anthocyanins.

Can You Eat Raw Rhubarb?

While rhubarb is safe to eat when cooked, it is not recommended to eat raw rhubarb stalks. Raw rhubarb contains high levels of oxalic acid, which can be toxic when consumed in large quantities. Eating too much raw rhubarb can cause stomach pain and even kidney damage.

How to Prepare Rhubarb for Cooking

To prepare rhubarb for cooking, you should first remove the leaves. The leaves contain even higher levels of oxalic acid than the stalks and should never be eaten. Once the leaves are removed, you can wash the stalks and cut them into small pieces. Rhubarb is often cooked with sugar to help balance out the tart taste.

Health Benefits of Rhubarb

While raw rhubarb is not safe to eat, cooked rhubarb can be a healthy addition to your diet. Rhubarb is low in calories and high in fiber, making it a great choice for those trying to lose weight. It is also a good source of vitamin K, which is important for bone health.

Other Uses for Rhubarb

In addition to cooking, rhubarb has been used for a variety of other purposes over the years. Rhubarb has been used as a natural dye, giving fabrics a pink or red color. It has also been used as a laxative and to treat constipation.


In conclusion, it is not safe to eat raw rhubarb stalks due to the high levels of oxalic acid. When cooked, however, rhubarb can be a healthy addition to your diet. Remember to always remove the leaves before cooking and enjoy this tart and tasty vegetable in moderation.