2013 Harvest Stats Reflection – by Dayna K.

The 2013 harvest was an interesting one. Due to a late spring, the rhubarb crop was considerably smaller than usual, with only 13 harvest requests. Volunteers were eager to pick, however, and we filled all of the requests and picked 275 pounds of rhubarb from backyards across the city.

Spring turned to summer and with it, a variety of “special fruit” picks, which filled up very fast! Homeowners requested picks of apricots, cherries, chokecherries, plums, raspberries, and a u-pick farm even donated the last of their strawberries for our pickers!

Orange Rhubarb Butter

Orange Rhubarb Butter

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: 2x500 mL jars or 4x250 mL jars.


  • 8 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups orange juice


  1. Combine rhubarb, sugar and orange juice in a large heavy pot and bring to a simmer.
  2. Reduce heat to low and let it gently bubble, stirring every 5 minutes or so.
  3. If it is sticking to the bottom of the pot, reduce heat.
  4. Continue cooking like this for at least one hour, until the butter has reduced in volume and has turned a deep rosy colour.

Harvesting Rhubarb

We are gearing up for harvesting season! With the recent rain and warmer temperatures, rhubarb will soon be ripe, if it isn’t already! Picking rhubarb is a very simple process, however there are few tips to keep in mind:

–Before you start–

  • Remember, only the stalks of the plant are edible!
  • Refrain from picking stalks if this is the first year of planting the rhubarb
  • Rhubarb can be harvested about every 4 to 5 weeks, or about 3 times a season
  • Rhubarb growth may be affected by lack of water, poor drainage, high temperatures and frost

–What to look for–

  • Stalks should be about 10-20 inches long 
  • The length and thickness of the stalk can vary according to weather conditions and the variety of the plant

WANTED – Rhubarb!

Reward? A tasty treat that can be used in jams, pies, cakes, crisps, and so much more!

Rhubarb is known as a cool season perennial plant that can survive the harsh Manitoba winters. Even with our late spring, rhubarb will soon be ready for picking, likely by the end of the month.


Keep an eye out for unharvested rhubarb in the coming weeks. If you spot unharvested rhubarb, why not knock on the door and see if the owner will allow you to pick a few stalks? Or, drop a Got Fruit? note in the mailbox to encourage them to sign up their rhubarb with Fruit Share. We have volunteers ready and eager to pick!

Shaking Apple Trees

We had a great time picking apples on Tuesday night.  Gorgeous, delicious Goodland apples.

We picked as many as we could with our super tall step ladders.  But this was a very tall tree and we could only go so high.  In our eagerness to get every last apple, we did the only thing we could think of – we shook the apples from the tree.  We cringed as we watched and listened to them plummeting to the ground.  They landed pretty hard and most have big bruises on them now.  They’re still useable for applesauce and juice, but they’re not so great for eating, slicing or giving away.

Manitoba AppleCrabs

On July 29, we had our first apple harvest thanks to Lynda and Darrell.

These delicious 4-6 cm applecrabs (cross between an apple and a crabapple) are a light green with a red blush.  They’re crispy with just the right amount of sweetness, great for eating just as they are or for any number of recipes. My kids declared that they are picture perfect apples.

Now, what to do with 200 lbs of picture perfect apples?!

Today, we’ll see which community organization would like 66 lbs of applecrabs.  And then, we’ll be busy making apple juice, apple sauce, apple butter, apple crisp, apple kuchen, apple cobbler, apple pie, apple muffins, or whatever else suits our fancy.

Top 5 Questions about Rhubarb

Here are the top 5 questions we hear about rhubarb and some links to all things rhubarb.

1. Are rhubarb leaves really poisonous?
Yes, rhubarb leaves are really poisonous.  High levels of oxalates and anthraquinone glycosides that are present in rhubarb leaves are believed to be the culprits.  Check out  The Rhubarb Compendium for more information.
Having confirmed that the leaves are poisonous, let’s keep things in perspective.  You would need to eat about 5 kg or 11 lbs of rhubarb leaves to cause death.  That’s a lot of rhubarb leaves!  Of course, you’d need much less to get a tummy ache. 

In other words, don’t make rhubarb leaf salad for dinner tonight!

2.  Can I put rhubarb leaves in my compost?
Yes, you can compost rhubarb leaves.  Since we don’t eat our compost pile, there is no danger to us.  And, because the components break down so quickly, there’s no danger to the microbes in your compost bin either.  Even when you finally use your compost, the acids will have been decomposed and won’t affect the acidity of your compost.
3.  How do I know when rhubarb is ready to harvest?
Despite what someone may have told you, do not wait until the stalks turn red!  You might be waiting for a long time since not all rhubarb varieties will ever turn completely red.  Instead, rely on the size of your rhubarb.  Start harvesting when stems are about 25 to 40 cm or 10 to 15 inches long.  Check out Purdue University for some more information on rhubarb harvesting.

4.  What’s the proper way to harvest rhubarb?
Our best advice is to pull out the large stalks on the outside of the plant.  Run your hand down the stem until you’re close to the ground then gently pull with a little twist.  The stem should come right out.  Leave at least four or more stems in the middle to ensure further growth.
5.  How much rhubarb in a…?
Here’s our rhubarb conversion chart.  It comes in handy when making all those delicious recipes!
In Metric Measurement
1 bunch = 5-8 stems
5-8 stems = 2.2kg
2.2 kg diced into 1 cm pieces = 875 ml 
In Imperial Measurement
1 bunch = 5-8 stems
5-8 stems = 1 lb
1lb diced into 1/2″ pieces = 3 1/2 cups 
We also like the information provided by Canadian Gardening and the University of Illinois on growing, harvesting and cooking rhubarb.

Our First Fruit Sharing

And so it begins.

On a cloudy May long weekend, a desperate plea from a friend and neighbour about rhubarb launched Fruit Share into action.
It was a small harvest of 1.5kg or 3lbs of rhubarb.  It required only one volunteer travelling by bicycle to harvest, but it was and always will be our first harvest!
True to form, Fruit Share split the fruit three ways.  The  homeowner asked for her 1/3 to be left standing in the rhubarb patch.  The remainder was split 50/50 between the volunteer and an unknown senior living at Fred Tipping Place (a senior’s apartment building on South Osborne).  
Yes, it was a small bundle that we shared.  But it was just the right size to get a huge grin and a big thank you from a lovely gentleman who enjoys making rhubarb crisp.  That little batch was all he needed.
Thanks to Julie for sharing her bounty and making three families very happy on a cloudy May long weekend.