Rhubarb is only available for a short while each spring and summer – and than it is gone until the next year. Since it will be gone all too soon, I always make numerous rhubarb dishes and desserts while it’s in season. Which brings up a question. When does rhubarb season end? I grew up hearing that it ended on the 4th of July – and that the rhubarb plants needed the remainder of the season to recharge so that they’d survive the winter. I continue to follow this rule of thumb – though always want to push the limits and continue eating rhubarb just a little longer.
Before rhubarb season ends, I decided to make another hundred-year-old rhubarb recipe. This time I made Rhubarb Custard Pie. The pie was topped with meringue and the rhubarb custard had just the right amount of tartness.
Here’s the original recipe:
The old recipe states that if you don’t have fresh rhubarb, canned could be used. I’ve never seen canned rhubarb, but am guessing that frozen rhubarb could be used – though didn’t provide directions for using frozen rhubarb since the amount of sugar in the recipe would need to be reduced if the rhubarb had been frozen with sugar – and the needed reduction in sugar would probably vary depending upon the sweetness of the frozen rhubarb.
Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:
Rhubarb Custard Pie with Meringue Topping
2 cups rhubarb, diced
3/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 9-inch pie shell
2 egg whites
6 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
Rinse diced rhubarb and drain. Combine rhubarb (with a small amount of water clinging to the rhubarb) and 3/4 of sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil using medium heat while occasionally stirring, then reduce heat and simmer until tender (about 7 minutes). Remove from heat and cool.
Preheat oven to 450° F. Put the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of sugar, flour, salt, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth, then add milk and beat to combine. Stir in the cooked rhubarb. Put the mixture into the prepared pie shell. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 ° F. and continue baking for 25 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Remove from oven, and top with the meringue (see below). Reduce heat to 300° F., and put the pie back into the oven. Cook for an additional 15 minutes or until the meingue is lightly browned.
In the meantime, make the meringue. Place egg whites in a bowl, and beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add sugar while continuing to beat. Then spoon on top of the pie and swirl.