Garden Rhubarb

I was introduced to rhubarb by my neighbor shortly after moving to Portland. She gave me a portion of the stalks from her backyard plant along with a recipe. I fell in love with the tart flavor! Rhubarb was one of the first garden plants I planted wen we moved into our Oregon House. It is one of the easiest plants to maintain in the garden. It will grow in most colder regions and once planted will return larger year after year. Rhubarb needs little care, just sun and room to grow. It is so hearty it will even thrive in places with short growing seasons.

To ensure the health of your plant wait until the leaves have grown at least 10 inches before harvesting. Snap off only the amount you are going to use. And never take more than a 1/3 of the leaf mass. Harvest through the spring and stop harvesting at the beginning of summer too allow the plant to shore up energy for winter. At the end of the growing season the leaves will wither but as spring dawns this hearty plant will sprout again and come back bigger han before providing you with rhubarb for years to come.

The bright pink stalks are the only edible part of the plant. To prepare, trim off the leafy portion and discard. The leaves contain oxalate, which has been reported to cause poisoning when eaten in large quantities. Wash the rhubarb stalks and use immediately or freeze for later use.

Rhubabd stalks have a rich tart flavor and are harvested for use in pies and jams. In fact another name for rhubarb is pie plant. Chop the stalks into 1 inch pieces. Now your rhubarb is ready to use!

Sweet and Tart Rhubarb Cherry Pie

Serve a slice to anyone your would like "to sweeten" towards you.

You will need:

pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie

2 cups fresh rhubarb, chopped

15 ounce can of sour cherries, drained

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 Tablespoons minute tapioca

1 teaspoon vanilla

Place rhubarb in a large bowl. Drain cherries and add to rhubarb. Top with sugar and stir to coat. Cover and let mixture set overnight. Next day, add tapioca and vanilla to the rhubarb mixture and stir together. Let set out at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Pour mixture into the prepared pie crust. Dot top with butter. Add top crust. Brush crust with yolk and then sprinkle with sugar. Cut small holes in top to let steam escape. Bake for 45 minutes or until pie filling is bubbling. Removed from oven and cool.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie

You will need:

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 pound fresh rhubarb, chopped

2 pints fresh strawberries

pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie

2 Tablespoons butter

1 egg yolk

2 Tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix flour and sugar. Add strawberries and chopped rhubarb. Toss until coated and let stand for 30 minutes. Pour filling into pie crust. Top with interwoven lattice strips. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C), for 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly and brown. Cool on rack. Serve warm for a sweet and delicious treat.