Rhubarb Anyone?

I’ll be honest, I had no idea that rhubarb had such an extensive history. Living in Lancaster County, I know that there are entire festivals and days dedicated to this mysterious plant. There are recipe contests and pie eating contests and parades with rhubarb characters leading the way. Kitchen Kettle Village has the world’s only rhubarb race-car derby at their festival in May! But did you know that rhubarb originally was cultivated in Ancient China (way back in 2700 BC) for its medicinal, purgative qualities? And while there are many varieties of rhubarb available all over the world, it is said that true rhubarb (the kind with the purgative elements) are only grown in a mountainous region of China called Kansu. Interesting!

We thought we’d share a Rhubarb Custard Pie recipe that is available in our Miller’s and Plain & Fancy Cookbook. While it isn’t something we serve at our restaurants any longer, it’s a wonderful recipe that we think you’ll enjoy.

Pie Ingredients:

  • 3 cups diced pink rhubarb (1/4 inch slices)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp lemon or orange juice
  • 1 – 9″ unbaked pie shell

Pie Crumb Topping Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup pastry flour and 1 1/4 cup cake flour OR 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour total


Arrange rhubarb in pie shell. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon & salt. Add eggs and lemon (or orange) juice. Stir until a smooth paste is formed. Pour over rhubarb. Top with pie crumb topping (directions below). Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes and then reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.

Directions for Crumb Topping:

Put all ingredients in bowl of food processor with steel knife. Process in short 2 second bursts until coarse crumbs are formed. Note: Over processing will cause loss of crumb-like topping.

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