The bright red stalk vegetable that "eats like a fruit" has come a long way from Eastern Europe, where it got its name from a word meaning "barbarians of the Volga River." Rhubarb was consumed by the Germanics in Europe, while the Chinese used it for medicinal purposes as early as 2700 B.C.
Washington Rhubarb is harvested from hothouses January through March, then hand cut from fields April through September. The colorful plant is grown in the Puyallup valley, in the shadow of Mount Rainer.
Seventy percent of Washington's field rhubarb crop is frozen using the individually quick frozen (IQF) process. This rhubarb is packed in 30 to 50 pound containers for use in the baking industry.
Rhubarb is traditionally baked in pies and sauces, but has found its way into soups, stews, salads, and a variety of desserts as well. with only 21 calories per 2/3 cup of cut-up rhubarb, it is a good source of calcium (24% of the RDA) and Vitamin C (9% of the RDA).
How It Grows
Washington Rhubarb is grown in the valley region in the shadow of Mt. Rainer. Its flavor, mildness, and tenderness is incomparable with all other varieties. Never, no never, should one peel it, because the coloring and many of the vitamins are contained in the skin.
Its Beneficial Value
Washington Rhubarb or what is commonly known is some localities as pie plant, is one of nature's first and best spring tonics. It contains valuable mineral elements and should form a substantial part of the family diet all year round. It is not a fruit but the acid stem of a hardy perennial. Here is less waste to Washington Rhubarb than other varieties because the leaf is cut off and the stems are well trimmed.
To Keep Juice From Running Out of Pies
Your Rhubarb pies will stay juicy and the juice will remain in the pies instead of the oven if to every pie you will sprinkle in two rounding tablespoons of fine bread crumbs. Sprinkle one on the bottom and the other mixed with the Rhubarb. Use the bread crumbs in addition to the usual flour that one puts into juicy pies.
Prepare pastry and roll out undercrust; fit into 9-inch pie pan. Combine flour, sugar salt with unpeeled Rhubarb and place in crust. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust which has been pricked. Bake at 425 degrees F. for about 40 minutes.
Mix until crumbly the first five ingredients. Press part of mixture into 9 X 9 pan. Put rhubarb in pan over "crust" in bottom. Combine sugar, water, vanilla & cornstarch in saucepan and cook until clear. Pour over rhubarb. Top with remaining crumbs. Bake in 9 X 9 pan one hour at 350 degrees F. Double recipe and use large pan.
Line 9-inch pie pan with pastry and fill with diced Rhubarb. Combine sugar and flour and stir in egg, lemon rind and juice and water; cook over boiling water until slightly thickened. Pour over Rhubarb and top with strips of pastry in a lattice work design. Bake in a hot oven, 450 degrees F., 15 minutes, then reduce heat to moderate, 350 degrees F. And bake 30 minutes longer.
Wash and dice unpeeled Rhubarb and mix with sugar, flour, salt and spice. Beat eggs slightly, add milk. Combine with Rhubarb mixture. Place in pie shell and dot with butter. Bake at 400 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Makes on single crust 9-inch pie.
Combine sugar, flour, salt, and nutmeg. Add fruit, mixing well; let stand 20 minutes. Spoon into 9-inch pastry-lined pie plant. Dot with butter. Moisten edge; adjust top crust; flute edge.
Bake in hot oven (400 degrees) about 40 to 45 minutes or till done. Serve slightly warm.
Provided by Washington Rhubarb Growers Association
This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.
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This page modified February 2007
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