Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Grandma's rhubarb custard pie and hints on how to freeze rhubarb

Rhubarb season is in full swing here, although I have to admit that my garden produces more than I can keep up with. Every year I am burdoned with the guilt of letting much go to waste, although I do manage to freeze a quart or two to enjoy later in the season after the harvest is done, and I also give some away to neighbors who are willing to take it.

There are numerous recipes for enjoying this tart plant. My neighbor makes a slushie, another neigbor makes crumbcake bars, a friend makes rhubarb-strawberry pie, and I have always made rhubarb custard pie. If you aren't a fan of pie dough, then just forgo the pie shell and make a custard pudding with the filling. The pudding has worked for me when I've ended up with more filling than can fit in the pie.

If you're uncertain as to whether you would enjoy this pie, then I offer this simple advice-- If you love meringue, than you'll love this custard pie. It's creamy-sweet like that.

Perhaps the most time consuming part of the recipe preparation involves the peeling of the rhubarb stem skins. I always trim the stem above the root and a couple inches below the leaf. Then I use a paring knife to pull away the stem skin. The skin will come off in strips. Then you will want to slice the rhubarb into small pieces until you have 3 1/2 to 4 cups of chopped rhubarb.

After that, the recipe is straightforward. Look below for what you'l need.

Grandma's rhubarb custard pie

3 large eggs
3 Tablespoons milk
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp nutmeg
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
3 1/2 - 4 cups peeled and chopped rhubarb (as described above)
rolled pie dough for 1 single-crust 9-inch pie

Place pie dough in pie pan and decorate edges as desired. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, beat the eggs, milk, sugar, flour, nutmeg and cornstarch together until smooth. Add melted butter and mix again. Stir in rhubarb, then pour the filling into the pie shell.
Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, then turn heat up to 400 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven, lightly brush top of pie with another 1 tablespoon melted butter and allow to cool. Store in refrigerator to chill. Then serve. This recipe makes about 8 servings.

Freezing rhubarb.

After peeling and chopping the rhubarb, blanche it for 2 minutes in boiling water. Then drain and immediately cool the rhubarb down by running it under cold water. Spread the rhubarb out on linen towels to dry. Lightly grease an aluminum cookie pan with oil. After the rhubarb is cool and mostly dry, then spread the chopped rhubarb out on the aluminum pan and set in the freezer.

This step allows the chopped rhubarb peices to freeze individually in their own space, rather than getting clumped up and stuck together if you were to put them directly into a bag. Once the chopped rhubarb is frozen on the aluminum pan, transfer the rhubarb to a labeled plastic bag.

I've added an image of some blackberries that I froze with this same method last year. Although I do NOT blanche the berries. I just rinse and dry them on a towel before freezing. Since these berries are the last of my frozen berries from 2017, I am anticipaing a fantastic new harvest for 2018!

If you have other suggestions, let us know in the comments! Happy summer!

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