Rhubarb has a unique taste that makes it a favorite in many pies and desserts. It originated in Asia over 2,000 years ago. It was initially cultivated for its medicinal qualities, it was not until the 18th century that rhubarb was grown for culinary purposes in Britain and America.
Although it is a vegetable, rhubarb is found here in the fruit section because most people think of it as fruit. It is actually related to garden sorrel.
Some of the finest quality rhubarb is grown in Michigan, Ontario, Canada, and other northern states in the United States. Rhubarb seems to do better in colder climates than in the hotter southern states. Fresh rhubarb is available from early winter through early summer. Winter rhubarb is commercially produced in forcing houses in Michigan and Ontario.
***Warning*** - The thick, celerylike stalks can reach up to 2 feet long. They're the only edible portion of the plant. The roots and the leaves are poisonous. They contain high concentrations of oxalic acid crystals which can cause serious problems when eaten.
Rhubarb is a perennial plant which forms large leaves with long, thick stalks. There are many varieties of this extremely tart food, most of which fall into two basic types-hothouse and field grown.
Hothouse rhubarb is distinguished by its pink to pale red stalks and yellow-green leaves, whereas field-grown plants, (which have more intense flavor), have cherry red stalks and green leaves. Hothouse rhubarb is available in some regions almost year-round. The field-grown plant can usually be found from late winter to early summer, with a peak from April to June.
Selecting a quality product
Choose crisp stalks that are brightly hued. The leaves should be fresh-looking and blemish-free. Even though you will
not be using the leaves, their health is indicative of the stem.
Rhubarb is highly perishable, fresh rhubarb should be refrigerated, tightly wrapped in a plastic bag, for up to 3
days. Wash and remove leaves just before using.
Rhubarb is often used in the year's first fruit pies, often paired with sweet strawberries. This is why rhubarb
came to be known as "the pieplant." But rhubarb is also used in a wide range of other things such as muffins,
cookie bars and cakes, not to mention "Frog Hair Pie" - see recipe below. It is used in savory dishes too, rhubarb provides a unique taste for marinades, glazes
and condiments to pair with roasted meats and poultry.
Choose crisp stalks that are brightly hued. The leaves should be fresh-looking and blemish-free. Even though you will not be using the leaves, their health is indicative of the stem.
Rhubarb is highly perishable, fresh rhubarb should be refrigerated, tightly wrapped in a plastic bag, for up to 3 days. Wash and remove leaves just before using.
Rhubarb is often used in the year's first fruit pies, often paired with sweet strawberries. This is why rhubarb came to be known as "the pieplant."
But rhubarb is also used in a wide range of other things such as muffins, cookie bars and cakes, not to mention "Frog Hair Pie" - see recipe below. It is used in savory dishes too, rhubarb provides a unique taste for marinades, glazes and condiments to pair with roasted meats and poultry.
Frog Hair Pie
Story found with the recipe: "I think the name of this wonderful dessert lends more mystery to it than its actual origin. As any Iowa farm boy could tell you, the hair on a frog is indeed one of Gods finest creations, literally! To put your mind at ease, there is no frog hair in this dessert, but if you look closely at the cooked rhubarb you will notice the fine fibers of the fruit. This appears to be the only explanation for the name that anyone is willing to cough up.
Makes 6 servings
1 1/4 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons milk
Preheat your oven to 400°F.
Combine the rhubarb, sugar, 1/4 cup water and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Allow to stand for 10 minutes.
Pour the mixture in a heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened. Stir often. Transfer the cooked mixture to an 8 x 8 x 2 inch baking dish and set aside.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut in the softened butter with a fork until incorporated. Set aside.
Beat together the egg and milk until frothy, and add it to the flour mixture while stirring just enough to moisten. Drop the topping onto the rhubarb mixture creating 6 mounds.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until topping is browned.
Serve this while still warm topped with French vanilla ice cream.
2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
3/4 cup orange juice
1 1/4 cups rhubarb, fine chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all the dry ingredients. Beat egg and oil together. Add orange peel and juice to the egg/oil mixture. Then add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients. Add the rhubarb. Fill prepared muffin pan 3/4 full and bake for 25-30 min.
4 pork loin chops, 3/4 inch thick
1 tbsp cooking oil
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups soft bread crumbs
3 cups sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb, 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
In a large skillet, brown pork chops in oil and season with salt and pepper. Remove to a warm platter. Mix 1/4 cup pan drippings with bread crumbs. Reserve 1/2 cup; sprinkle remaining crumbs into a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish. Combine rhubarb, sugar, flour and cinnamon; spoon half over the bread crumbs. Arrange pork chops on top. Spoon remaining rhubarb mixture over chops. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle with reserved bread crumbs. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until chops test done. Yield: 4 servings.
2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved
6 cups rhubarb, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
12 tablespoons butter at room temp
1 can (7 ounces) almond paste
2 cups all purpose flour
Heat oven to 400F. Mix strawberries, rhubarb, 1 cup sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice in large bowl. Toss well. Pour into a 13x9" glass baking dish.
In the food processor mix butter, almond paste and remaining 2/3 cup sugar until well blended. Transfer butter mixture to medium bowl. Add flour and use your fingers to work flour and butter mixture until moist clumps form. Sprinkle almond mixture over rhubarb and strawberries. Bake for about 45 minutes or until fruit bubbles and topping is golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Serves eight.
Vegetable cooking spray
2 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup butter
4 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb (thaw and drain if frozen)
2 tbsps sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9" round cake pan. In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, butter, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In large bowl, whisk egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Add flour mixture and blend. Stir in rhubarb. Pour batter into pan, spreading evenly.
In small bowl, combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over cake. Bake 45-50 minutes or until golden brown. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack 15 minutes. Serve warm, cut into 10 wedges.