Easy as Pie, A Lesson in Rhubarb
My dad gave me a huge pot (it’s at least 100 pounds of dirt and root) of rhubarb last late spring. At first I thought this was a great thing because I like growing food and collect vegetables and fruits for the garden like one collects porcelain figurines. For example, this year I’m growing a watermelon not because I like watermelon but because one should just grow a watermelon for the sake of growing a watermelon. Okay, back to the rhubarb: This rhubarb was given to me in perfect ripeness but because I hadn’t yet researched rhubarb, didn’t know this. As with many of my vegetables and fruits in the last two years, I have grown them in the wrong season, picked at the worst time and neglected to protect them from things that will harm them (except for the slugs…I’m very good at keeping the slugs away). So, I have this beautiful, ripe, ready to be made into a pie or jam or something rhubarb and I let it sit there until the leaves die and the plant sheds it’s stalks. This past winter I read about my plants, and this is where I figured out the what’s what of seasonal harvest. Needless to say, I was very ready this spring when my rhubarb pie burst forward into this very mild and cool spring so far (for Minnesota), and made a pie. It was a really great pie too.
Growing & Harvesting Rhubarb: Grows in Spring, to be harvested in spring when the stalks turn bright pink and red. Harvest by pulling the stalks from the base of the plant. Discard the leaves – NEVER cook with the leaves…they are poisonous. In fact, because the cat and dog sometimes get a little curious about what’s in the trash, I took this straight out to the alley trash. About where I have this giant rhubarb plant: on the other side of the backyard fence, in the alley area where it gets about 6 hours of direct sun and then partial sun for the rest of the day. My lovely animals do not come near this plant, because they could become seriously sick if they ate the leaves. Enough about the leaves…I think you get it.
The Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe I used was slightly modified from Food & Wine’s original recipe, and that was to reduce the amount of rhubarb and strawberries to 3 cups, and the cornstarch to 1/3 cup.