A Rosy-Red Garden Bonanza: Seasonal Rhubarb Recipes

This flavorful perennial, packed with Vitamin A, lends itself to seasonal rhubarb recipes and some remarkably good eating.

| July/August 1982

  • 076-068-01
    Use your garden's rhubarb harvest to create these delicious rhubarb recipes.
    PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

  • 076-068-01

Enjoy these remarkably good sweet seasonal rhubarb recipes made from this very versatile vegetable. 

Seasonal Rhubarb Recipes

Although rhubarb (Rheum rhaponticum) is actually a vegetable, it's generally used as a fruit. And, unlike most such sweet edibles, this plant is—in many parts of North America—kitchen-ready from late spring well into high summer. (Furthermore, given the untimely frosts that hit a lot of us in 1982, the outlook for a good harvest—and thus low prices—for many other pie-makings is gloomy indeed. Cold-hardy rhubarb, however, is likely to be in good shape in your own plot and a bargain on the grocers' shelves!)

If you're lucky enough to be able to walk out and gather the tart stalks from a backyard patch (don't take any under an inch wide and ten inches long), remember not to cut them from the plant. Instead, grasp a stalk at its base and pull, with a slight twisting motion, while gently pressing down on any tiny new growth to prevent its being plucked up along with the mature stem. Then, because rhubarb leaves contain very poisonous oxalic acid, cut them off . . . together with an inch of stalk.

Once you get your harvest to the kitchen, remember that though all the traditional dishes given here call for sugar, you can—if you prefer—simply substitute equal amounts of honey up to one cup. When larger quantities are called for, reduce the total amount of any other liquids in the recipe by 1/4 cup per cup of honey used. (We wouldn't, however, recommend the use of that particular sugar substitute in the conserve recipe, as the citrus juices called for are needed for flavoring and shouldn't be reduced. You might want to try a date sugar, though.) Also, lower the oven temperature 20 degrees to 30 degrees to prevent over-browning sensitive honey-sweetened baked goods.



Grandmother's Rhubarb Pie Recipe

Rhubarb—used either alone or in combination with such other fruits as apples, strawberries, or pineapple—makes so delicious a pie that it's known as "pieplant".

To make the basic dessert, combine 4 cups of inch-long rhubarb chunks, 1-1/2 cups of sugar, 1/3 cup of flour, a dash of salt, and 1 tablespoon of butter . . . put the mixture in a pastry-lined pan . . . and cover the filling with a top crust (slash it in a couple of places to let the steam escape). Bake the pie for about 45 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.



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