From Rhubarb Patch to Pie

Rhubarb is really easy to grow and even easier to enjoy in a homemade Pie

Rhubarb made it’s first appearance in an Italian garden in 1608 and quickly spread to the rest of Europe. It is happiest in a cool and wet climate so I planted it last summer in the bottom of the garden just on the edge of the forest. It is only producing this summer and it seems to be doing well – Since it only needs dividing about once every five years which keeps the plants healthy and uncluttered, I can just leave this rhubarb patch to do its thing.

Did you know that rhubarb is indigenous to China and is traditionally used by herbalists as a remedy thanks to its purgative qualities?

Rhubarb has plenty of Vitamin C, an ample supply of Vitamin K and a range of Vitamin B complex – as well as containing minerals like manganese, magnesium and potassium. It contains many phytonutrients that are potent antioxidants, improves vision, is good for the heart, and is a natural laxative, among its’ many attributes. It also reduces the metabolism of sugar in the body, thus influencing blood glucose levels. It can even be made into a paste to be used on cuts and injuries. It is a traditional treatment of jaundice and chronic renal failure. It prevents aging of skin and the formation of wrinkles!

As a child my mother would give me a stalk of raw rhubarb from the garden and I would eat it on the swing with a small bowl of sugar that I would dunk the stalk in.
It was sheer delight. Here is what my rhubarb patch looks like today :
RhubarbPatch

production2_103967_208dbd832921d2d6af0b4d81fdc9430cDenise’s Rhubarb Custard Pie Recipe

6 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sour cream (see my note below)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
Finely grated peel of 1 orange
1 teaspoon milk
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (220C).
Thaw your pie crust and do not prick the bottom.
Put sliced rhubarb in a large bowl.
In a medium-sized bowl, stir 3/4 cup sugar with the flour.
Then stir in the sour cream, egg, vanilla and orange peel.
Pour that over the rhubarb and stir until evenly coated.
Turn mixture into pie shell
Make your lattice crust. Trim the edges. Press to seal the edges to the bottom crust.
Brush the lattice and the edges with the milk.  Sprinkle with the 1 tablespoon of sugar.
Place pie on a baking sheet. Bake on bottom rack of oven at 425 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.
Then reduce oven to 350 degrees (180C) for about another 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
photo

This recipe calls for sour cream but I never found the stuff in France – I use either yogurt (the last time I baked this pie I used goat vanilla yogurt and it turned out fine) but today I had some crême fraîche so I used that. I also used two eggs instead of one because my chickens’ eggs are small. If you want to impress your friends, do the lattice crust – it is so pretty and old-fashioned looking. You can buy two store-bought crusts which makes it even easier to do. But you can also do this pie without a crust topping as shown in this photo taken this morning. Once I reduced the heat to 180C, I covered the dish with tin foil and cooked for about 20 minutes – then I removed the tin foil and let the top brown for the last 10 minutes. Lovely –   By the way, Denise is my sister who lives in Port Hope, Ontario and is a notoriously good cook! elaineP

Post script: Rhubarb Tragedy near-miss

In this photo I have just fed those gorgeous-looking rhubarb leaves to my goats – Here is Pepette looking at me as if to say « What the ?? » while Riquette and Cannelle dig into the seemingly attractive rhubarb leaves, freshly picked and cut off from their stems that are going into the pie.goats This is important information for anyone who has goats : Rhubarb leaves are highly toxic ! Don’t do what I have done in this picture! Rhubarb leaves abound in Oxalic acid that can bind the calcium in a goat’s system and cause illness, lethargy and even death ! Ignoramus !! I rushed into the pen and removed the leaves before the goats had done much more than taken some hearty nibbles. Some people report that they give their goats a few rhubarb leaves every now and again but why risk it? There are many other things they can eat without the possibility of toxicity.

However, apparently Rhubarb leaves are a natural pesticide –
After tearing out and gathering up all the leaves that the goats hadn’t yet eaten, I threw them on the compost pile.

Better to focus on the lovely tangy rhubarb stalks and enjoy all their health benefits !

About The Author

Elaine Rudnicki

Elaine is a Yoga Therapist C-IAYT, Certified Life Coach, creator of AWAKE Coaching®, Yoga and Meditation Teacher and MBSR Instructor.