4 things to do with rhubarb, other than eating it

These tips will help you make the most of your rhubarb.

Everyone knows that rhubarb is a delicious addition to a variety of dishes, from the classic rhubarb pie to crumbles, cookies, breads, muffins and more.

[Read more: 10 plants that smell best in the evening]

But there's so much more to this pink veggie (yep not a fruit). When you've had your fill of rhubarb desserts, here's five other things to try...

Clean your pots and pans

Back in the day, rhubarb was the solution to burnt pots and pans. Research by Marigold found that the trick is just as good as it was in the 40s. It's easy to do. Just chop up some rhubarb into small pieces, and boil it in the afflicted pan until you get a glue-like consistency. It should take about 10 minutes. Once you have it, rinse with water and voila!

Make a natural insecticide

You can use your plant to protect your other plants. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, a poisonous compound, which you can use to defend against leaf-eating bugs. The oxalic acid is the reason you chop off the leaves before baking rhubarb, and it’s also why you shouldn’t use this natural insecticide on plants you intend to eat. You should also keep it away from children and dogs.

To make it, boil rhubarb leaves in a pot and leave to simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the leaves, and drain the contents into a spray bottle along with a teaspoon of detergent. Label clearly and wash everything you used.

Feel better

Rhubarb has been a standard ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds, if not thousands of years. According to The Rhubarb Compendium, rhubarb roots are best known as a tool for settling the digestive system, but can also be used to relieve constipation, reduce swelling and soothe burns and cold sores. The medicinal strain of rhubarb is different from the one we usually eat, so get this natural cure from a health store, instead of the garden.

Lighten your hair

For the DIY stylists, rhubarb can also be used to lighten blonde or brown hair. The medicinal variety is strongest, but this trick works even with the roots of the garden-variety plant. Almanac.com suggests putting “half a cup of fresh, chopped root in a quart of water for 20 minutes in a covered stainless-steel pot”. Leave it overnight, then strain in the morning. Test it first on a strand, and if you like it, wash your hair, then pour the dye through your hair. Repeat for greater strength and air dry, don’t rinse.

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