Once used for medicinal purposes 5,000 years ago by the Chinese, rhubarb in modern times is a much-loved pie ingredient. Rhubarb is not immediately sweet though. Unlike peaches, berries, or other fruits that can stand alone at the dessert table, rhubarb requires no choice but to be loved on through plenty of sugar before being submerged under a crust. Anyone who lives north of the “Deep Frying Line” knows this. If you have never heard of or tasted rhubarb, allow me to make an introduction through an old game, “Two Truths and a Lie.” Here are two truths and a lie about this ancient and mysterious plant, rhubarb…let’s see if you can determine which one is the lie?
- It’s a vegetable so you can feel doubly special when you eat it.
- The sour ingredient naturally occurring in rhubarb is citric acid.
- It’s leaves are poisonous and eating them can cause death if enough leaves are consumed.
Now for the results. The first statement is true; rhubarb is a vegetable. The next statement is false; the sour composition mostly comes from malic and oxalic acids. Finally, the last statement is true; its leaves are poisonous. The stem, however, is not poisonous and is often compared to celery in appearance and texture, but not in flavor.
I have some bad news though. If you live in a hot or southern climate, don’t expect to see rhubarb growing in any garden or for sale at any local farmer’s market. This vegetable has a discriminatory policy; it will only tolerate cooler temperatures found in northern growing seasons. If the government finds out, it will be prosecuted, but until then, we’ll suffice by paying more for it in our grocery stores.
With summer providing a change in schedules and daily grinds, questions about contentment seem to surface the most in my mind. How does a rhubarb recipe connect with contentment? Simply because, like rhubarb, we have our sourness, but when heaps of honey or sugar fall on us, we become something altogether delicious; pointing to an even grander taste that lies beyond us, even compelling us to share our transformed flavor with others like cherries, strawberries, onions, and more!
Contentment is finding the sweetness and mixing with it in the midst of the sourness in us and all around us. Let us begin with the source of all sweetness found only in God’s Words.
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” – Psalm 119:103
4 cups evenly chopped rhubarb
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 recipe for 9 inch double crust pie (or prepared store-bought crust)
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Mix flour and sugar and sprinkle over container of rhubarb. Toss gently and mound mixture into pie plate fitted with first crust. Cover with second crust and crimp edges to seal.
3. Place pie on cookie sheet (with edges) and onto lowest rack in oven. Bake for 15 minutes and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking for 40-45 minutes. Cool on rack and serve warm with ice cream or at room temperature…for breakfast! Yes!