The Best Rhubarb Pie Recipe - Rhubarb Cream Pie

Perfect rhubarb pie with lattice crust

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Rhubarb Pie - A Sign of Spring

Rhubarb pie is always a sign of spring in the country, and rhubarb cream pie with its custard-like filling is an old time favorite. Tender pink rhubarb shoots poking up in the garden are some of the first signs of spring, and rhubarb is one of the first crops you’ll see at local farmer’s markets. If you’re lucky enough to grow your own rhubarb, be sure to give this delectable pie a try.


Grow Your Own Rhubarb

Rhubarb plants are easy to propagate by division, and this will create new plants that have the same characteristics as the parent plant. I was lucky enough to get a large plant from my grandmother's garden. It had thick, dark pink stalks that made beautifully tinted pink pie fillings and sauces. One large plant was easily divided into eight smaller plants that soon produced all the rhubarb we could possibly make into pie, jam or cakes. My family did love rhubarb. My three sons and husband, all bottomless pits, also enjoyed rhubarb sauce, rhubarb strawberry jam, rhubarb cake and rhubarb cobbler. In the spring and early summer, we usually had a large bowl of rhubarb sauce in the refrigerator which we all enjoyed as a refreshing snack or on vanilla ice cream.

Rhubarb Plant

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Selling rhubarb from our garden

By the second year, we were pulling enough rhubarb from our garden plants to supply us with a few pies and rhubarb sauce. After about five years, our eight plants each produced more than enough to supply our family, so the boys set up a little self-service stand at the end of our driveway and sold bunches of rhubarb for $1.00 each. With very little effort, they had a thriving business for a month or two each spring.

Recipe for Rhubarb Drink

If you use rhubarb that is red in color, the drink will be a pretty pink!

  • Wash and cut about 6 cups of rhubarb into one-inch slices. Place rhubarb into a large pot and add about 3 quarts of water.
  • Cook on medium heat until the rhubarb is mushy and press through a sieve. Discard pulp.
  • Alternately, you can place it all in a blender and blend the pulp into the water for a thicker drink.
  • While the mixture is still warm, add sugar to taste. Start with about a cup of sugar, and taste test. Add more water if necessary.

The drink will be tart, similar to lemonade, but have a more syrupy consistency because of the rhubarb pulp. Serve chilled or over ice.

Making and Selling Refreshing Rhubarb Drink

Rhubarbade

Their most innovative project though, was at our table at the local Ithaca Farmer’s Market. Since the market opened in early spring before most of our other crops were ready, we were looking for something else to fill up our table. At that time, few people were selling drinks, and the warm Saturday mornings had us hot and thirsty. We decided to make a batch of rhubarbade by cooking the rhubarb with water and sugar and straining out the pulp. Because our rhubarb was such a deep red color, the resulting liquid was beautiful— pink, tart and a little thick, similar in consistency to pineapple juice. We added enough sugar to make it palatable and enough water to thin it to a refreshing consistency.

Not knowing how this unusual drink would go over, we only made a couple of gallons of it, poured it into a big drink cooler with ice and set it out with some small paper cups for 50¢ a cup. In no time, our supply was gone and people were coming back for more, asking how we made it. The kids were delighted, and we made several gallons of the drink each Saturday throughout our rhubarb season.


Perfect Rhubarb Cream Pie Recipe

This is the recipe that my mother always used for rhubarb pie. While there are many other tasty versions, I think this one, with its custard-like filling, is the very best!

* For a deeper pie, use 5 cups of rhubarb and increase sugar to 2 cups, eggs to 3.

Rate this recipe: Perfect Rhubarb Cream Pie

5 stars from 1 rating of Perfect Rhubarb Cream Pie

Cook Time

Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
Yields: 9

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 to 4 cups * rhubarb, cut into 1/2" slices
  • plain crust for 2 crust pie

Instructions

  1. Line a 9" pie plate with pastry crust and set oven to 450°F
  2. Cut rhubarb into 1/2" slices.
  3. Beat eggs, flour, sugar and nutmeg together until smooth. Pour over rhubarb and stir well.
  4. Pour rhubarb mixture into pie crust. Dot with butter and top with pastry crust or lattice crust.
  5. Top of crust can be sprinkled with granulated sugar and cinnamon mixture for a more decorative look.
  6. Bake in hot oven 450°F for 10 minutes, then turn temperature back to 350°F and bake for an additional 30-35 minutes.
  7. Cool pie before serving if you want filling to be set. Although the warm pie is delicious, the filling will be a bit runny while the pie is still warm.
  8. Serve plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  9. *note: If you have a deep dish pie plate, increase amount of cut rhubarb and sugar proportionately.

Rhubarb Nutrition Facts

One cup diced rhubarb (unsweetened) contains:

Calories - 60
Vitamin C - 10 mg.
Folate - 8.5 mcg
Calcium - 105 mg.
Magnesium - 14.5
Phosphorus - 17 mg
Potassium - 351 mg.

All About Rhubarb

Rhubarb is treated like a fruit, but it is actually a vegetable. At one time it was used medicinally as a diuretic, laxative, purgative and tonic for treatment of constipation. It was also used for a myriad of other complaints from menstrual problems and hemorrhoids to acne.

Now the tart vegetable is mostly used in pie and other deserts created by country cooks. While it is often grown in old fashioned gardens, it’s not always easy to find in stores, and you will seldom see prepared rhubarb deserts or jams on store shelves. If you don’t have rhubarb growing in your own garden, the best place to find it is your local farmer’s market in the early spring.

Only the stalks of the rhubarb plant are edible as the leaves contain oxalate which is poisonous. Rhubarb in itself is very low in calories ( about 30 calories in a half cup of raw sliced rhubarb, but it is so tart that it is almost never eaten without being cooked with sugar or another sweetener.

Rhubarb Trivia

The oxalic acid in rhubarb leaves can kill aphids. Chop 3 to 5 rhubarb leaves and cook in a quart of water for thirty minutes. Strain, combine with a half teaspoon of dishwashing detergent and use to spray on plants to prevent or kill aphids. Don’t use on edible plants as the oxalic acid is poisonous.

In the mid-1980s, researchers found that CFC's (Chlorfluorocarbons) were one of the primary reasons for the dangerous depletion of the ozone layer. Conventional methods for breaking down CFC's are costly and dangerous. In 1995, two Yale scientists discovered that oxalic acid, found in rhubarb, helped neutralize CFC's.


How to Propagate Rhubarb by Plant Division

Rhubarb is easily propagated by dividing the roots of a mature plant — one that is at least 4 years old. The root ball should be dug up in early spring before leaves begin to show or in late fall. First, discard any parts of the root that are damaged or look rotted. Look for the buds on the root and be careful not to break them off. With a sharp knife, cut the crown of the plant so that there is at least one bud showing on each piece of root.

When planting the divisions in their new location, mix some compost in with the garden soil first. If you are dividing in the fall and there are still leaves on the plant, cut off the largest ones and cut off any flower stems. Remaining leaves will probably wilt anyway, but don’t worry, it won’t affect the plant.

Rhubarb stalks

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If you are lucky enough to have rhubarb growing in your garden, I envy you! Our lovely rhubarb plants are still thriving in New York many years after planting them, but we were unable to move them with us to North Carolina. Rhubarb pie is now a rare treat, but I still make it at least once a year when I can find rhubarb in our local farmer's market or grocery store. Whether you grow your own or purchase your rhubarb, I hope that you will enjoy some luscious rhubarb pie too!


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This article Copyright ©2011 by Stephanie Henkel



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Comments 29 comments

marellen 5 years ago

Every thing and more on rhubarb...we never had this on our dinner table growing up and I have never tried to cook with it either. The pie does look good though and pie is one of my favorites dessert. Just might have to give this a try.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Marellen — If you like a tart pie, you'll probably like rhubarb, especially with this custard-like filling. You can add extra sugar if you think that it will still be too tart for you. Rhubarb cooked in other ways is rather an acquired taste. You like it or you don't. Thanks for stopping by to comment on my hub!


marellen 5 years ago

Steph...thanks for that tip...I probably would not like it, since I have a sweet tooth and like my desserts sweet.


JSParker profile image

JSParker 5 years ago from Detroit, Michigan

Hi Stephanie, very good hub and just in the nick of time. I was about to start Mark Bittman's recipe, his calls for 5 cups of rhubarb to a minimum of 1 cup of sugar. I think that would be a pretty tart pie! Yours seems more likely to please. I have never made a rhubarb pie, always combined rhubarb and strawberries, which I think does cut down the need for some of the sugar.

Also Bittman says it's a good idea to "string" the stalks of rhubarb before chopping up. Ever hear of that? Do you think it's necessary?

Your photos are very appropriate, too.

Good job.

Best, JSP


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi JSP, If the rhubarb is old or has been picked at the end of the season, it might be more dry and stringy. Also, some of the thinner stemmed varieties might be more stringy. I've never had to "string" rhubarb that I grew myself as it was always picked while it was fairly young and used while fresh. Slicing in smaller slices would take care of any toughness, though removing strings won't hurt it if you think it's necessary.

I think that 5 cups rhubarb to a cup of sugar would be too tart for me, too. If you have a deep pie plate, you can use 5 cups of rhubarb, but increase the sugar and other ingredients too. Exact measurements are not really necessary for this pie.


Carmen H profile image

Carmen H 5 years ago

Nice all-in-one hub: facts, resipe, nutritional values.


Fennelseed profile image

Fennelseed 5 years ago from Australia

Can you believe I grow rhubarb, yet I have never made a rhubarb pie!!! And I thought I knew all about rhubarb, it has been part of my life since childhood, where it was a family favourite, mostly as apple and rhubarb crumble and also rhubarb jam. Thank you for the low down on this versatile vegetable. I will now look at my rhubarb through enlightened eyes.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Fennelseed — How lucky you are to have your own home-grown rhubarb! Do try some rhubarb pie; I'm sure you'll enjoy it if you already love rhubarb. Thanks for stopping by to read my hub and comment!

Carmen — Thanks for your comments!


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 5 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Stephanie, I love rhubarb and rhubarb pie,great hub and recipe !


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

Hi, Stephanie!

I love rhubarb pie and stewed rhubarb. I've never had jam, sauce or preserves, as my mom was not "that kind" of ambitious cook...(neither am I). ;-)

I cannot, however, think about rhubarb without remembering one of mother's pies. She had read a recipe in the newspaper, and decided to try it. It called for one cup of chopped rhubarb. As she dumped it into the pie shell, she thought it looked a bit sparse, but shrugged, because that was all she had bought. Well, by the time it had baked, that was about enough rhubarb to stain the crust.

She never lived it down. LOL

Thanks for the info...I must look up rhubarb plants for my garden. I wonder if it is already too late in the year, being mid-June??


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Lizzy, Thanks for sharing the cute story about your mom. I guess we all have one of those cooking disasters in our past -- how come no one ever forgets them? LOL

I think it might be a little late to plant rhubarb this spring as the plants are usually pretty well advanced by now. If you get some roots to plant in the late fall, they should do well.

Thanks for stopping by!


kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether

Stephanie - I have never had rhubarb pie, believe it or not! Though I would love to one day. You've written a very resourceful and wonderful hub here on the tasty rhubarb. :) I've voted this hub up and AWESOME! I am an amateur gardener, but now I'm thinking of trying my hand at rhubarb.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Kitty, Thanks for reading and commenting on my hub! You have missed out if you never have had a taste of homemade rhubarb pie. I hope you'll remedy that someday! Rhubarb is usually quite an easy plant to grow, but I've read that it doesn't do real well in hot southern climates like Florida. I wish you well if you try it, though.


Guanta profile image

Guanta 5 years ago from New York City

Stephanie Henkel - Thank you for your great Hub on rhubarb. I always wanted to make a rhubarb pie and never got around to it. I'm going to save your recepie so that I can try it in the future. Thanks so much.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Guanta - Thanks for stopping by to read my hub. I do hope you like the recipe when you get around to making it!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

That is definitely one thing that I wish could be grown down here in the south, but alas!, it obviously needs colder weather to survive. I loved eating rhubarb sauce, pies, etc. and like you, seldom even see it for sale in Houston. We grew up with it in Wisconsin and almost anyone with a garden had some growing in it. Thanks for the memories!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Peggy - I imagine Wisconsin is a great place to grow rhubarb! If you're like me, we try to get some when we come north to visit. There really is nothing like a homemade rhubarb pie! mmm....


ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

I love rhubarb pie. I never understood the idea of adding strawberries to it! Of course I also dislike sweet and sour sauce in chinese dishes.


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Ruffridyer,

I do like sweet and sour combinations, but I agree with you that rhubarb pie is just perfect without the addition of strawberries or other fruit. To each his own! Thanks for stopping by to read my hub and to comment.


AlmostLola profile image

AlmostLola 5 years ago

sound delicious. can't wait to try it. thanks for sharing.


plinka profile image

plinka 5 years ago from Budapest, Hungary

Hi Stephanie - I have not eaten rhubarb yet, but I've read that it is quite popular in the USA. I usually watch cooking channels and I saw how they prepare rhubarb pie or cake and it looked gorgeous. I've bookmarked it, I'm always interested in new recipes. :-)


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA Author

Plinka - I don't know if rhubarb is available in stores where you live, but if you can find it, I'm sure you'll love rhubarb pie - cake, too! Thanks for visiting!

AlmostLola - Sorry I missed your comment until now. Thanks for stopping by my hub!


snakeslane profile image

snakeslane 4 years ago from Canada

Very nice Rhubarb Pie recipe page Stephanie. I enjoyed your family stories and all the useful info on rhubarb. Regards, snakeslane


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Snakeslane - Rhubarb pie has to be my all-time favorite pie! I'm happy to share it, and glad you liked the recipe. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Stephanie, my dad has had a glut of rhubarb this year and I have been the lucky recipient of his extras so I will keep this recipe bookmarked - I just live rhubarb pie and this sounds yummy.


Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

Tracy Lynn Conway 4 years ago from Virginia, USA

Fantastic Hub! I was really unaware of the versitility and hardiness of this vegetable. I will always be stuck on how interesting the color is, seems like burgundy colored celery. I also thought it was only popular in Europe where I had first tasted the legendary pie. Great hub, great info!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Tracy Lynn Conway - Most rhubarb does have a beautiful color ranging from green to pink to dark red. The color makes jams, pies a sauces just as lovely to look at as they are delicious. Thanks for stopping in to read and comment! Hope you can enjoy some rhubarb pie again soon!


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA Author

Jools99 - How lucky you are to have access to some home-grown rhubarb! Enjoy a piece of rhubarb pie for me! :)


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

I will thanks x

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    Stephanie Henkel1,395 Followers
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    Stephanie loves dessert and especially loves to bake new delicious recipes to share with family and friends.



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