All about Rhubarb

I love learning new things.  Especially tidbits of information that are easy to remember!  For example, yesterday while reading about rhubarb,  I learned that it is actually a vegetable…who knew???   There are not that many savory applications that I know of for rhubarb, so I’ve always just thought of it as a fruit.

Rhubarb Recipes

By Anders Sandberg from Oxford, UK via Wiki Commons

But now it just seems so obvious because it does look a lot like Swiss chard, a delicious vegetable.   Of course one must remember that the entire chard plant is edible and rhubarb is NOT:  its leaves are toxic, so it is quite important not to mix up these two look-alikes!   Only the rhubarb stalks, or to be more precise, petioles, (something else I learned today!) are used to make the typical jam, cobblers and pies that it’s so famous for.   Sometimes rhubarb is used in savory dishes, usually in a sauce or glaze; but the sweet treats that it stars in are much more common.

Rhubarb does seem to be one of those polarizing items that people either LOVE or HATE.  Most of us here at our Chestertown Bed and Breakfast are in the love camp…

If you are one of the rhubarb lovers out there, check out The Rhubarb Compendium, which has more information on the vegetable than I’ve ever seen compiled in one place.  Here you’ll find rhubarb’s history, unusual uses for it (natural hair dye, anyone?), and so many recipes you won’t know where to begin.

But to get you started, here is a foolproof and super easy recipe for a strawberry rhubarb filling that can be used in a pie, or as a crisp or cobbler.   Rhubarb and strawberries are in season at the same time, so they are a natural pair.  The addition of ginger is optional, but we like the contrast that its bite gives to the sweet-tart filling.

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB PIE FILLING

  • 4 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 4 cups strawberries, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated OR 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or orange juice
  • pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Let sit for about 20 minutes.

To make crisp or cobbler, spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.   Place strawberry rhubarb mixture in dish and top with your favorite crisp* or cobbler topping.  For a pie, simply place filling between 2 pie crusts, or just use the bottom crust and top with crisp topping instead of another pie crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the crusts are browned.

See…it doesn’t get much easier than that, does it?

*Another easy recipe:  Brampton Inn Crisp Crumb Topping

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, or 1 tsp. of your favorite spice or combination of spices
  • ½        cup      confectioner sugar (or ¼ cup of light brown sugar)
  • ½        tsp.      salt
  • 1          cup      unbleached flour
  • 1          stick    (8 oz.) unsalted butter cut into 8 chunks, at room temperature

Mix spices, confectioner sugar, salt and flour in the bowl of a stand up mixer with the paddle attachment.  Add butter chunks and mix on low until combined but still crumbly.

Crumb topping can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to 3 months.

 

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