One of the many benefits of growing up in Ohio was the bountiful gardens of my relatives. My Aunt Dolores’ garden was adjacent to our yard and I spent countless boyhood hours with her as she tendered to her plants, savoring all of her fresh vegetables – peas, green beans, potato’s, tomato’s, the list is almost endless. One of my favorites and it is coincidentally celebrated this month – rhubarb! January 23 is National Rhubarb Pie Day.
We Floridians cannot grow it, and gardeners in the northern states can’t give enough of it away. It is described as an uncommon vegetable, quoting the Joy of Cooking “Only by the wildest stretch of imagination can rhubarb be included in this fruit chapter, but its tart flavor and its customary uses make it a reasonable facsimile, when cooked, of fruit.”
Rhubarb is almost unbearably tart on its own and needs the sweetness of sugar, fruit juice or honey added to balance out the acidity. From personal experience I will tell you that the deep red stalks are sweeter and richer. It would be remiss of me to not include this warning. Never eat the rhubarb leaves either cooked or raw, they are poisonous containing the toxin oxalate.
Two recipes , simple but treasured, Aunt Dolores, this is for you from my heart.
- 3 Cups chopped rhubarb
- ¾ Cup sugar
- ¼ Cup water
Combine the above and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until tender 5 to 10 minutes. Cool and refrigerate.
- 2 Cups diced rhubarb
- 1 ¼ Cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- 1 Tbsp. instant tapioca pudding
- 1 Cup cream
- ¼ Tsp. salt
- 2 Egg yolks
Fill a pie crust evenly with diced rhubarb. Whisk cream and egg yolks. Combine dry ingredients to cream mixture and pour over rhubarb.
Bake at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes or until pie is set.