Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding

Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding

It’s the time of year for rhubarb, and I’m enjoying various rhubarb dishes and desserts – Stewed Rhubarb, Rhubarb Pie, Baked Rhubarb with Orange, but I’m always looking for new recipes, so I was pleased to see a recipe for Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding in a hundred-year-old cookbook.

Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding is made using pearl tapioca which required soaking overnight, so this isn’t a quick recipe, but it turned out well. The tapioca is cooked until it is almost done, and then rhubarb pieces are stirred in. After I stirred the rhubarb pieces into the tapioca, I did not stir any more but cooked for another half hour or so using low heat. The result was tender rhubarb pieces embedded in the tapioca that maintained their shape. The old recipe suggested serving this with thin cream, so I served with half and half – though it would also be good with milk.

The Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding had an old-fashioned goodness. It had a nice balance of sweetness and tartness.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding
Source: The Boston Cooking School Cook Book (1923)

The Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding was plenty sweet for me, so I did not add any additional sugar when I served it.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2/3 cup pearl tapioca


1 1/4 cup boiling water

2/3 teaspoon salt

3 cups rhubarb, cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1 1/3 cup sugar

half and half or milk

Cover tapioca with water and soak overnight. Drain. Put tapioca and salt in a large saucepan with a heavy bottom (or use a double boiler if you have one), then add boiling water. Heat with medium heat until bubbles begin to form at side of pan, but it is not yet boiling; cover and reduce heat to very low. Cook until the water is absorbed (about 45 minutes to an hour).

In the meantime put rhubarb and sugar in a bowl. Stir to coat rhubarb with sugar.

Stir in the rhubarb pieces coated with sugar, and increase heat to medium for 1 minute. Cover and reduce to heat to very low. Cook until the rhubarb is tender and the tapioca translucent (about 1/2 hour).

Can be served hot or cold. Serve with half and half or milk.


19 thoughts on “Rhubarb Tapioca Pudding

    1. My mother used to cut rhubarb that grows wild on a piece of property that we own. While she was an awful cook, her rhubarb pies were very good, as was the rhubarb sauce she made for ice cream. Even a rhubarb cobbler she made was very good.

      You should try it.

      I have to say that nobody really makes anything with it that was as tart and fresh as her dishes, which of course, were indeed very fresh.

      1. I am not sure if I have ever even seen it in the store here. Mississippi State says rhubarb doesn’t do well due to the clay soil, heat, and moisture.

      2. I never heard of rhubarb ice cream before, but I’m intrigued. I like more rhubarb desserts, so think that I might enjoy it.

    1. I’d never thought of it quite that may, but rhubarb does make everything better. It’s one of those foods that is still very seasonal (and there don’t seem to be many of them any more), so I really look forward to it each spring.

  1. Noooooo. You’d never get this pudding past any English person of a certain age. Too many miserable memories of school dinners including tapioca pudding. I’ve yet to meet an English person who doesn’t view tapioca with disgust. You must magic it into something better in the States!

    1. Many people also have negative perceptions of tapioca in the U.S., but I think that it’s been so many years since it was popular, that many people are barely familiar with it and it seems like something new. I’m enjoying rediscovering it.

  2. That does sound delicious. I’m not sure I can find rhubarb for sale here. Grandson David says the local fruit stand is open now. That is probably the place to look.

  3. Sheryl, I just want to say again that I really enjoy that you look for and try recipes from long ago. Most of the recipes I grew up with and inherited from my mother’s recipe box (and copied for my freshman year Home Economics class cookbook that I still have and use) were passed down from family.

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