Can you eat rhubarb when it’s green?

In this short blog, we will answer the question “can you eat rhubarb when it’s green?”. We will also consider the safety of eating rhubarb when it’s green, the myth of red rhubarb being better than the green, and the health benefits and side effects of eating rhubarb.

Can you eat rhubarb when it’s green?

Yes, you can eat rhubarb when it’s green. Green stemmed rhubarbs are just as tasty as the red stems we are used to seeing on other Rhubarb kinds. Several rhubarb kinds don’t have red stalks at all, and yet they’re no less delicious. 

Is it safe to eat rhubarb when it’s green?

Rhubarb stalks that are green are still edible and safe to consume. Whether green or red stalks, there is relatively no difference in flavours or taste. The green nature of some stalks is a result of the difference in genetics or varieties as well as environmental factors. 

Are red stemmed rhubarb better than green stemmed rhubarbs?

Red stemmed rhubarb is not better than the green stemmed ones. The difference is usually a result of varietal differences and environmental conditions. They offer similar benefits and can be used in a similar manner when cooking.  

  • Although many consumers want a deep red petiole, the red stemmed plants tend to develop slowly and produce little while the green types are frequently more productive than red varieties. 
  • Although frequently mistaken by consumers that red stemmed rhubarb is sweeter than other hues, this is far from the truth. The colour and sweetness of rhubarb stems aren’t always associated in any way. The red pigment comes from the abundance of some coloured pigments with antioxidant properties. 
  • Green stems are edible just like the red stems. However, when cooked they lose their appeal and lack the sour and puckering edge that rhubarb lovers want to look out for in the regular rhubarbs.

What are some factors leading to green stemmed rhubarb?

  • Rhubarb is primarily grown in tiny quantities to control weeds and just 7 to 10% of the stalks are allowed to ripen to the point of turning red. The rest is only allowed to remain green. 
  • Furthermore, there are different varieties of rhubarb. Only a few types of rhubarb turn crimson when ripe. Its flavour is unaffected, but crimson rhubarb looks appealing in cuisine. The produce should be fertilised with well-composted manure to allow the rhubarb to fully ripen. When given enough nutrition, rhubarb thrives. 
  • Rhubarb grows best in full sun, and the soil it is planted in should have a pH of 6.0 to 6.8. However, when it is cultivated in soil with an inappropriate pH, your rhubarb won’t turn red. 
  • The rhubarb’s tissues may be acidic and thus it does not turn red. When the rhubarb starts to die down at the end of the season, each piece that falls to the ground will be acidic. The acidity of the particles that are composted to the soil lowers the pH of the surrounding soil over time. As a result, the red hue fades from the plant, leaving just green stems. 

What are the health benefits of eating rhubarb?

There have been few studies on the health advantages of rhubarb. However, its nutrient composition speaks to the true benefits derived from their intake. These health benefits can be derived from 

  • Rhubarb has the potential to decrease cholesterol levels. Rhubarb stalks are high in fibre, which may lower cholesterol levels. Rhubarb fibre has a favourable effect on cholesterol levels. 
  • Rhubarb also contains a lot of antioxidants. The overall polyphenol concentration may be even higher. Anthocyanins, which are responsible for rhubarb’s red colour, are known to have numerous health benefits, among the antioxidants found in the plant. These serve as protection for humans through the scavenging of free radicals that causes certain cancers and more.

What are the downsides of eating rhubarb? 

Rhubarb is one of the best sources of calcium oxalate, the most common type of oxalic acid in plants, in the diet. According to folklore, in reality, rhubarb should not be harvested until late June because oxalic acid levels are thought to climb from spring to summer. The oxalic acid component is concentrated in the leaves, but depending on the cultivar, it can also be found in large levels in the stalks.

  • The formation of calcium oxalate crystals in numerous organs are caused by too much calcium oxalate in rhubarb and results in a dangerous disorder called Hyperoxaluria.
  • Also when calcium oxalate crystals build up in the body, it may result in Kidney stones. Kidney failure can result from long-term hyperoxaluria.
  • Dietary oxalate has different effects on different people. Some people are genetically prone to oxalate-related health concerns. Thus, vitamin B6 deficiency, as well as a high vitamin C intake, can raise your risk.


In this short blog, we have answered the question “can you eat rhubarb when it’s green?”. We have also considered the safety of eating rhubarb when it’s green, the myth of red rhubarb being better than the green, and the health benefits and side effects of eating rhubarb.