“Rhubarb and patience can work wonders.”― German Proverb
There are some ingredients that are so fleeting and special, that you look forward to seeing them in the market like it’s Christmas morning. Rhubarb. It is the sign of spring at last! Long slender pink stalks that are so sour and tart it’s amazing we find the plant edible.
Rhubarb root was originally used as a digestive. It was grown in China and became a hot trade commodity on the silk road to Europe in the 14th Century. However, eating rhubarb stalks was not popularized until the plant made its way to England in the 1800s. Today, rhubarb is found across the continental US, from Maine to California. It even grows right here in Idaho.
Rhubarb is incredibly seasonal. You can only find fresh rhubarb in the spring. Rhubarb is a vegetable, which resembles pink celery stalks. Look for slender stalks . Note: rhubarb leaves are poisonous — which is why, when you buy rhubarb in the market it is stripped of its leaves.
Rhubarb has a very humble reputation. It is often overlooked (& overcooked), or simply not taken seriously. My family has long loved The Prairie Home Companion, the News from Lake Wobegone. I’m pretty sure the most fame rhubarb has ever experienced was the Beebopareebop Rhubarb Pie skit. Check it out if you have a hokey clean sense of humor, like I do.
Don’t let this humble reputation fool you. There are so many possibilities of how to prepare rhubarb! Besides the popular pies, you can make rhubarb compote, lemonade, jam, & savory glazes for meats. You can bake muffins, cakes, & crumbles with rhubarb. This recipe is simply the easiest and quickest way to get rhubarb on the table. When I finally see rhubarb at the market, I load up my cart, head home, and have rhubarb for dessert that evening! The topping for this crumble is derived from the topping for my family’s famous apple pie. It is simply delicious.
- 3 1/2 lbs rhubarb, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 3/4 Cup sugar
- 2 1/2 Cups flour
- 1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter cut into tablespoons
- 1 Cup sugar
One 9″ x 9″ Crumble
50 Minutes Cook Time
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 9″ x 9″ baking dish.
- Place rhubarb in a saucepan with sugar. Cover and cook over medium low for 10 minutes until tender. Stir & test consistency. Rhubarb should be soft to pierce with a fork, but not mushy.
- Fill prepared baking dish with cooked rhubarb.
- Whisk together flour and sugar
- Add butter to dry ingredients. Either rub together with fingertips to incorporate into pea-sized pieces OR use a pastry cutter to combine.
- Sprinkle the crumble over rhubarb. Do not press down to compact. The irregular topping allows for juices to bubble up while baking.
- Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until top is nicely browned.
- Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of heavy cream. Also delicious for breakfast with a strong cup of coffee.