The Amish Cook, Week of March 25, 2013: Wild About Rhubarb

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Editor’s Note:  Rhubarb is by far the most-searched recipe topic on the website during March and April, so since everyone is wild about rhubarb, we are offering these recipes and thoughts from Lovina about this spring staple, from our Amish Cook’s Baking Book.

THE AMISH COOK

BY LOVINA EICHER

Rhubarb finds its way into so many baked goods. It just adds a nice, tart taste to everything. Mom baked with her homegrown rhubarb often, and she never had trouble growing rhubarb. If you want to start your own rhubarb patch, plant the rhubarb one year and then use it the second year. I have always done this and always had good luck. You don’t use the rhubarb for a year so that you can give the plants time to develop strong roots. I got my starts from a lady in church and just planted a whole row of them, and every year they get fuller and spread out more. I plant my rhubarb in full sun, because I don’t think the plants do as well in the shade. A lot of times people will plant them right at the edge of their garden. We do this and also put horse manure around the plants in the spring, which seems to help them grow. The rhubarb is one of the first goodies ready to be harvested in the spring, and this recipe is a great way to starting using it.

RHUBARB SQUARES

Filling:

4 cups rhubarb cut into 1/4-inch pieces

2 cups water

1 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring

Crust:

3/4 cup shortening, softened

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9 by 13-inch pan and set aside.

To make the filling: In a medium saucepan over low heat, cook the rhubarb, water, and sugar until bubbling. Then add the cornstarch and stir until the cornstarch is mixed throughout and the mixture has thickened. Add the almond flavoring and stir. Keep on the stove over low heat.

To make the crust: In a large bowl, combine the shortening, sugar, baking soda, vanilla, flour, oats, and cinnamon until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Take half of the crumbs and pat them into the bottom of the prepared pan. Remove the filling from the heat and pour over the bottom crust, spreading it evenly. Then crumble the remaining half of the crumbs evenly over the filling. Bake until the crust is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 minutes.

When I was growing up, we would have rhubarb shortcake a lot of times right out of the oven for supper in the evenings. Mom would sprinkle sugar and cold milk on top. We never had it for breakfast unless it was left over. My dad wouldn’t put milk on it; he would just eat it warm. I have fixed rhubarb shortcake for my children many times, and some like it more than others. If we have ice cream in the freezer, they would prefer that ice cream be served with it. We never had that choice growing up. They don’t act like they care for the milk on the rhubarb like I did when I was younger. The children do really like rhubarb juice and jam.

RHUBARB SHORTCAKE

3 cups sour milk

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups chopped rhubarb

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine the soda, baking power, flour, and salt. Then gradually add the sour milk until a really soft dough forms. Spread a layer of this dough in a 9 by 13-inch cake pan, and then add a thick layer of rhubarb. Put the sugar on the rhubarb. Put rest of the dough on top and bake until the rhubarb is tender, about 45 minutes.

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The Discussion


  1. Lovina, I have had rhubarb in the same spot for years & it never spreads any further. I even let some of it go to seed thinking that the seeds would provide me with more plants. No luck. Is there anything else I should do? I mulch the plants with shredded leaves (maple) in the fall.

    Thanks Theresa

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    • I would try changing where you have it planted. Some plants just don’t like their location. I have done this with vegatables and flower’s. Hope this helps.

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      • This is the 3rd place that i’ts been planted in!! I’ve actually never hear of rhubarb spreading. I only thought it could be propigated by root division

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        • Try amending the soil with some real good composted manure and make sure that your rhubarb is in a sunny place. I moved mine last spring because it didn’t like where it was. I divided the crown up into very small sections and transplanted it int a row of 7 plants in full sun with lots of manure and composted grass and leaves. It went absolutely nuts!!!!! By end of summer you would have thought those plants had been there for years.

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          • another thought would be to start over with new crowns. Yours might just be spent or have some genetic defect.

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          • I do put shredded leaves over the area in the fall, but I’ve never done the manure. How much should I put there? 2-3 inches?

            Thanks Theresa

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  2. Rhubarb is one thing on my list to get this year. My mom always had enough for both of us but I haven’t had any for years. I have always loved strawberry/rhubarb pie and just sauce. I hope for find some for sale and some in my garden center to buy and to plant!!!

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  3. Charlotte says:


    I have never even seen rhubarb!! I guess maybe something like Whole Foods might carry it – but there’s not one near me. I don’t know that it grows here in the South. Does the plant require cold weather to thrive?

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    • You only ever see it fresh in the spring. Look for bright, red stalks (the leaves are inedible). Even my tiny grocery store carries it. The rest of the year you can usually find it in the frozen section.

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