It’s spring and the rhubarb is growing in the garden. I pulled some stems (pull rather than cut) to make the first of the season rhubarb custard pie. We always had a rhubarb patch wherever we lived. And eating that very first rhubarb pie was a special treat.
This is my Mom’s recipe and it’s so easy. You make the custard by creaming butter, sugar, and flour; mixing in the egg yolks; adding in the rhubarb and lastly folding in the whipped egg whites. If you can’t find fresh, try frozen rhubarb which is available year round.
You won’t often find an all rhubarb pie for sale — strawberries are usually added to the ones you find in the bakery section of the grocery section. But let me tell you that a rhubarb custard pie is far superior.
Spring is rhubarb season and is one of the first edible plants in your garden. Rhubarb is a cool weather crop but needs sun to grow. The big leaves help protect it from the sun. If you keep harvesting the stalks, it should keep producing into early summer. Just remember, the leaves are toxic to humans and animals, so take care, and I just recently learned that if your rhubarb patch freezes, the whole stalk can become toxic! You can find rhubarb at some grocery stores, farmers markets and sometimes by posting something on your Facebook looking for neighbours who might have some to share. A lovely woman from Springfield area gave me rhubarb and a plant (crown) to plant in my garden by such a Facebook post. And once, on a walk down the alley, I talked with a neighbour who had a big patch in their backyard. We got talking and he offered me some rhubarb. I went off to do my errand in town and when I returned there was a bag of rhubarb. I still eye that rhubarb patch when I’m out for a walk. Maybe I should offer to make them a pie!
Our other favourite way to eat rhubarb was by making it into sauce. Just chop up the rhubarb, add sugar to taste and cook in a pot with a little bit of water. There was almost nothing better than a bowl of rhubarb sauce with a piece of fresh buttered bread. There are lots of recipes that call for rhubarb — cakes, squares, jams, take your pick.
Helen’s Rhubarb Custard Pie (8 inch pie plate)
4 cups rhubarb cut in 1/2 inch pieces
Sprinkle with salt, let stand for 10 minutes, then rinse.
In a large bowl cream:
1 cup sugar and
4 tablespoons butter.
Add 4 tablespoons flour and mix.
Add 4 large egg yolks and mix completely.
You may need to add an extra egg yolk if mixture seems too dry.
Add drained rhubarb and mix together.
(It will be a rather dry mixture, but that’s okay because of the egg whites)
Beat the egg whites into stiff peaks and
Fold into rhubarb mixture.
Pour into single unbaked pie shell so that the filling comes to top of crust edge. I brushed some egg yolk on pie shell to avoid the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’ , but it’s not necessary. If you have too much filling, bake remainder is a small dish.
Bake at 450F for 10 minutes
Bake at 350F for 25 minutes
Let cool and enjoy.