A Rosy-Red Garden Bonanza: Seasonal Rhubarb Recipes

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Use your garden's rhubarb harvest to create these delicious rhubarb recipes.

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.

Rhubarb Conserve Recipe

Squeeze the juice from 3 oranges and 1 lemon, then grind up
the rind of one orange. Combine the liquid and peel with 10
cups of small rhubarb pieces, 8 cups of sugar, and 1-1/2
cups of seedless raisins. Cook the mixture slowly, stirring
often, until it thickens. Then add 1 cup of chopped nuts .
. . remove the pan from the heat . . . pour the conserve
into 6 hot, sterilized pint jars or glasses . . . and seal.

Old-Time Rhubarb Cobbler

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, then put 4 cups of finely
chopped rhubarb into the bottom of a greased casserole dish
and sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over it. Top the dessert with a
batter made from 1 cup of sour milk, 1/4 cup of butter, 2
eggs, 1/4 teaspoon of soda, 2 cups of flour, and 1/4
teaspoon of salt. Put the dish in the hot oven for 10
minutes . . . then reduce the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, bake the
cobbler another 30 minutes, and serve it warm, crowned with
a dollop of whipped cream.

Rhubarb Crisp Recipe

Add 2 tablespoons of flour, 3/4 cup of sugar, and 1 beaten
egg to 3 cups of cut rhubarb . . . and pour it all into a
greased baking dish. Now, combine 4 tablespoons of butter,
1/3 cup of brown sugar (packed), and 2/3 cup of flour. When
the mixture is crumbly, sprinkle it evenly over the
rhubarb. Bake the crisp at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes, or
until the rhubarb is tender.

Rhubarb Soup Recipe

First, cook 4 cups of cut-up stalks with 4 cups of water
until the pieces are tender. Now, use a strainer or
electric blender to puree the stewed rhubarb. Add 1
tablespoon of cornstarch and 3/4 cup of sugar, and simmer
the sauce a few minutes . . . until it thickens a bit and
the sugar is dissolved. Cool the soup and serve it chilled,
with a dab of whipped cream on top.

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