It is difficult to find time to sit down at the computer and compose articles about food as I am so busy in the garden planting, weeding and spreading compost, all the while salivating as I dream of the riches to come. One “fruit” that we are harvesting now is rhubarb. It is strange to call the stem of a plant a fruit, but we tend to call our sweet foods fruits and our savory foods vegetables. And, this is definitely a sweet ending to a meal.
The first time I tasted rhubarb in a palatable form was in a pie made by my mother-in-law. It was difficult not to ask for thirds. It is now the pie of choice in our house in May and into June. Our children assume that rhubarb pie will make an appearance on the Mother’s Day and Memorial Day weekends. It’s non-negotiable.
As a plant, rhubarb makes a bold statement in the garden, and the bloom is gorgeous. Once it sends up the flowering stem, you need to stop harvesting. First, you need to stop robbing the plant of its leaves. Secondly, the stems will become very sour which is a sign that the oxalic acid content has increased past the point for safe eating. Never eat the leaves or roots. Some sources recommend that you not eat rhubarb stems after July. I find it to be too sour by the end of June.
Rhubarb Cream Pie
Based on a recipe from my mother-in-law, Mary Knapke
Your pie crust of choice for a 9” pie pan. My preference is a butter-based pie crust that I create in my food processor. You do not need to pre-bake the crust.
3½ to 4 c. of rhubarb, cut into 1” pieces
1½ c. sugar; to deepen the flavor use: 1 c. white and ½ c. brown or half white and half brown
3 TBS flour (2-3 more if rhubarb is very juicy–usually at beginning of season and if we have had a lot of rain)
1 TBS butter, melted
Blend sugars, flour and butter. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Pour over rhubarb in a 9” crust. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes (the middle should barely wiggle when done).