View from Hickory Heights: A garden vegetable?

First of all, I believe rhubarb is technically a vegetable since it has no seeds in it. Once again, my rhubarb is ready to pick. I have already made sauce and one pie.

I have only two plants. But that is enough for me. When one of my son’s employees wanted to get rid of her rhubarb, I gladly took my two plants. That was years ago now. My plants are thriving under the windmill derrick.

We have always had rhubarb. The house my daughter lives in has a very large bed. It has been there for a very long time. We used to go over there when the people we bought the place from lived there. Mable and Henry enjoyed seeing my young children. The bed is a little smaller than it used to be since one of our tenants removed a couple plants while they lived there.

I cut it as they did. Simply cut the stalk, then put the leaves under it for fertilizer for another year. I did it that way until I found a new method in my reading. The source said never to cut it, but rather to pull the stalks. I tried that method. It not only worked, but it kept my bed of rhubarb growing without seed pods forming. Last year I had rhubarb until sometime in October. I still place the leaves under the plants to keep it growing.

The thing I like best about rhubarb is that you can put almost any flavor with it and it picks up that flavor. Although it is technically a vegetable, I use it like a fruit. As a sauce it is a great meal accompaniment. I have added strawberries as well as oranges and cranberries. This year I added it to my A-Z Bread, a sweet bread. It was delicious with a few nuts added in.

The pie I prefer is called a Rhubarb Cream Pie. If I put a faux lattice crust on top it comes up through the crust and really looks pretty. I have also made a strawberry rhubarb pie. They call for similar amounts of rhubarb and sugar.

When I freeze it, I put three to four cups per bag. It is so easy to freeze. You just cut it into one-inch chunks and drop it in the bag. Be sure to label the bag so you know when you preserved it. When you are ready to use it, just add it frozen. You may have to add a little more flour to your mix to keep it from being too thin.

Rhubarb Cream Pie

1 ½ c. sugar ¼ c. flour

¾ tsp. nutmeg 3 beaten eggs

4 c. rhubarb cut into chunks

Make two crusts for a nine-inch pie. The top crust can be placed on it whole or cut into strips twisted on top. I usually use the strip method because it looks so pretty. Mix all the ingredients. Place in a pie tin. Bake at 400 degrees for 55 minutes. I cover the edge of the crust so that it does not get too brown. If you have done the twisted method your pie will not spill over, otherwise be sure to put a pan under it.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

1 ½ c. sugar ¼ c. flour

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. nutmeg

3 c. cut up rhubarb

1 c. sliced strawberries

Pastry for 2-crust pie.

Combine sugar, flour, salt, and nutmeg. Add rhubarb and strawberries. Put into the crust. Place the top crust on using a wet finger to get them to adhere. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 min.

I like to make this one during strawberry season but it can be done with frozen berries, too.

If you are not accustomed to working with rhubarb experiment. You can also use blueberries or blackberries. Each year I collect as many recipes as I can. I also have one for a rhubarb crisp and some rhubarb cookies. The cookie one is new so I have not tried it yet. You can purchase rhubarb by the pound at some farm stands and in some grocery stores. The secret is to use the correct amount of sugar since rhubarb is so tart.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell. Contact her at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.


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