Rhubarb pie is a dessert prepared by cooking the rhubarb plant with sugar to form a sweet tart filling; this is poured into a pastry shell, covered with a latticed pastry lid and baked. Rhubarb pies are very popular in areas where the plant grows well. For example, the plant is commonly cultivated in cold areas like north England, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, and North America. The stems are harvested in the summer to prepare the pies.
Rhubarb was first cultivated in China as a medicinal plant. However, the plant was brought over to Greece and Rome by the 10th century where it was quickly adapted into local dishes. The Greek are credited with being the first to cook rhubarb and use it as a pie filling. However, the first authentic recipe can be found in the 1806- 1807 cookbook by Maria Eliza Rundell. In her cookbook, she provides detailed instructions on how to cook rhubarb and use it as a filling for Rhubarb Tart.
Ingredients and Preparation
Rhubarb pie is prepared with the stems of the rhubarb plant. The stalks are simmered in water with sugar or sweet fruits. Rhubarb is very tart in taste and a ratio of ½ cup sugar to 3/4th cup sugar to every pound of rhubarb is required to match the tart taste of the stalks. Younger stalks are milder in taste and are preferred for baking pies. Spices like cinnamon and ginger may be added to the fruit puree to flavor it. This is then poured into a pastry shell, covered with a lattice pastry shell and baked.
Rhubarb pie is usually served as a dessert with ice cream or sweet custard.
Often clubbed with other fruits, there are many variation of the rhubarb pie one can try.
- One of the most common variations is strawberry rhubarb pie or apple rhubarb pie that are prepared using sweet fruits like apples and strawberries in the filling along with rhubarb. It is also common to find variations that contain cherries, blueberries, and raspberries
- A few popular variations also use sweet custard as the pie filling and layer the stewed rhubarb on top of the custard in the pie.
- In the 19th century, the rhubarb plant was commonly referred to as the pie plant as the stalks were only used to make pies.
- Rhubarb leaves are toxic as they contain poisonous compounds like oxalic acid and senna glycosides which are very dangerous to humans.