Things I Make with Rhubarb

There has been lot of rhubarb in my life this month. It is all over the markets for about E1.65 a kilo (that’s two pounds-ish) and I cannot resist its glorious redness. I would probably never even have tried rhubarb if it wasn’t such an attractive… fruit?

I just looked up if rhubarb was a fruit or a vegetable. Guess what? It’s a vegetable, but in the United States there was actually a court case in 1947 declaring it a fruit. 

Anyway, in my experience, if you’re not from the midwestern part of the US, rhubarb can be something you’ve heard of but maybe never come into direct contact with. I probably couldn’t have told you exactly what it was until a few years ago. (Tim, meanwhile, grew up with his grandmother in Indiana churning out rhubarb pies.) Rhubarb didn’t taste like I expected it to, because I expected it to taste like its visual relative celery. No way. Rhubarb is tangy, soft, delicious.

Using up a kilo of it, however, is still a challenge. Here are some things I’ve made with rhubarb in the past month or so.

1. Rhubarb curd shortbread. I’d never made a curd before. It was a little labor-intensive, but a good project for a Saturday. Shortbread, it turns out, is not very difficult at all. I am a fan of any “dough” which you just smash into a pan with your fingers.

 2. Rhubarb Scones. Also very tasty.

3. Rhubarb Ginger Downside-Up Oatmeal Cake. This is my favorite, I think. I was a little skeptical when I made the batter, because it didn’t seem to make very much, and you’re supposed to cover the layers of rhubarb/ginger, sugar, and butter already lining the bottom of the pan (I used a Le Creuset dish in absence of a cast-iron skillet). I scraped every drop out of the bowl and into the pan. Despite my skepticism, the cake turned out well and 80% survived my “invert onto plate” maneuver. Sticky, happy goodness.

What do you do with rhubarb? Do you have any recipes with it that involve less butter than mine? I still have a bunch of stalks left….



Filed under Cooking

10 responses to “Things I Make with Rhubarb

  1. Mona

    Hey Meghan – Where is Grandma Imy when you need her? One of hers and my favorites is the following. I have given the recipe out to many friends at church who love rhubarb. It is yummy!

    Rhubarb Salad or Dessert

    3 cups rhubarb (cut in pieces)
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup water
    1 small pkg (3 oz) dry strawberry jello
    1 small can of crushed pineapple

    Combine and boil (slow boil) these first three ingredients for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. (You want the rhubarb cooked thoroughly so it is in small pieces, not chunky. Then it will be easy to eat.)

    Turn off the burner and add 1 pkg ( 3 oz) of dry strawberry jello. As you pour it in, stir the mixture to avoid clumping.
    Then stir in 1 small can crushed pineapple (drained first)

    Put salad in pan let stand 2 hours, refrigerate overnight.

  2. Rachel Califf

    You have inspired me to try rhubarb, which (as you said) I’d heard of but never tried… and assumed, from the looks of it, tasted like celery. 🙂 Can you pass along that scones recipe? They look yuuuuummmmy. 🙂 Thanks!!

  3. Judith Genaway

    Our rhubarb is JUST coming on in the North Country….I’m hungry for a cobbler…but your upside down thingy looks YUMMY. Rhubarb PIE is a favorite around here…I have a rhubarb cookbook, and I’ll have to haul it out….I’ll print out something that I think you’ll like and send it to you.

  4. Bethany

    I’ve never cooked with rhubarb before but succumbed to some overpriced but lovely stalks at Whole Foods, and now I’m making this rhubarb crumble:
    Your oatmeal cake looks delicious, and I’m stealing the ginger idea.

  5. Laurel Morsch

    I enjoy reading your blogs, Meghan. Kent forwards them to me. My favorite rhubarb dishes are strawberry rhubarb pie (sweet with tart combo) and Kent’s mom’s rhubarb sauce, which essentially is made like applesauce, I believe.

  6. Barbe

    I live in Atlantic Canada. Many (most?) of us have a patch of rhubarb in the backyard. Those who don’t are usually envious 😉 IMHO the best use of rhubarb is a strawberry-rhubarb pie. Yum! My mom would often stew it & serve it over ice cream.

    I’ve been making this recipe (from for a couple years, and it’s always well received:

    Sour-Cream Rhubarb Squares

    1/2 cup white sugar
    1 tablespoon butter
    1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I use pecans)
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
    1 egg
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 cup sour cream (I use Greek fat-free plain yogurt)
    1/2 cup shortening (I use butter)
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1-1/2 cups chopped rhubarb (I use 3 cups)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan.
    Mix sugar, nuts, melted butter and cinnamon until crumbly and set aside.
    In a separate bowl, cream together brown sugar, shortening and egg.
    Add flour, soda and salt to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Lastly, stir in rhubarb.
    Pour mixture into pan and sprinkle with reserved topping.
    Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes. Cut in squares and serve warm or cool.

  7. Twila

    I live in western Canada, and I too have a large rhubard plant in my backyard, so I am always searching for new things to make with it. Here’s my favourite recipe for a rhubard cake. It’s probably similar to the oatmeal cake you’ve mentioned, but its oh-so-good, and stuffed full with delicious rhubard.

    1/2 cup butter
    1 1/2 cups white sugar
    1 egg
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 cup buttermilk (if you can’t find buttermilk, add 1tbsp lemon juice or vinegar to a cup measure and top it up with regular milk. Let sit for 10-15 min)
    3 1/2 – 4 cups rhubarb, chopped
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup butter
    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 cup packed brown sugar
    1.In a large bowl, cream together butter or margarine and sugar. Beat in egg and vanilla.
    2.In another bowl, sift together 2 cups flour, soda, and salt. Add sifted ingredients alternately with buttermilk to creamed mixture.
    3.Toss rhubarb with 1 tablespoon flour, and stir into batter. Spoon batter into buttered 9 x 13 inch pan, and smooth the surface.
    4.Blend together 1/4 cup butter or margarine, cinnamon, and brown sugar; sprinkle evenly over batter.
    5.Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 45 minutes.

    • unquiettime

      Thank you, Twila, this sounds great, too! I had no idea rhubarb was such a common backyard plant in parts of Canada… that must be so nice.

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