Old-fashioned Raisin and Rhubarb Pie

When I saw a recipe for Raisin and Rhubarb Pie in a hundred-year-old cookbook, I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

Raisins and rhubarb, rhubarb and raisins. . .  I knew that the alliteration was what drew me to the recipe . . .but, I kept thinking, what does this recipe taste like? Would I like it?

So before I knew it,  I was making a Raisin and Rhubarb Pie.  I was rewarded with a lovely taste sensation. The sweetness of the raisins perfectly balanced the zesty rhubarb to create a scrupulous old-fashioned pie.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Source: Larkin Housewives’ Cook Book (1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Raisin and Rhubarb Pie

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 cup raisins

1 1/2 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 egg, beaten

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon flour

pastry for 8-inch (small) 2-crust pie

milk

sugar

Heat oven to 425° F.  In a bowl put egg, sugar, salt, and flour; stir until mixed together. Add raisins and rhubarb, stir gently to combine. Turn into pastry-lined pie pan. Cover with top crust and flute edges. Brush crust with a small amount of milk; sprinkle with sugar. Bake in oven for 15 minutes; then reduce heat to 350° F. Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and juice just begins to bubble.

Rhubarb and Pineapple Conserve

Rhubarb and pineapple conserve

It never seems quite like spring until I make a few rhubarb recipes, so when I saw a recipe for Rhubarb Conserve in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping, I just had to give it a try. In addition to the rhubarb the recipe called for a pineapple (as well as for the juice and grated peel of an orange).

Source: Good Housekeeping (May, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (May, 1916)

The recipe turned out wonderfully, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. The conserve tastes more like a pineapple conserve than a rhubarb one with lovely sunny notes of pineapple that are slightly muted by the tartness of the rhubarb.

And, it wasn’t a bright red color like I anticipated. Instead the conserve is a blend of delightful shades of yellow, green, and brown. The rhubarb I used had a little red in the stalks–but much of the length was green. This may have affected the color. I also did a little research and discovered that rhubarb jam recipes often call for strawberry gelatin or other added coloring agents so I now think that the conserve color is exactly right given the ingredients I used.

Conserves are typically served with meat, and this conserve is lovely with pork or poultry, but I also enjoy using it as a marmalade on toast and English muffins.

Rhubarb Conserve meat

When I worked on this post, I pondered whether I should use the old name or whether that was misleading. In the end, I decided to add “pineapple” to the recipe title, but to keep the keep the word conserve.

The bottom line: Whatever this recipe is called, it is delightful and something that I would make again.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Old-fashioned Rhubarb and Pineapple Conserve

  • Servings: 5 one-half pint jelly jars
  • Time: 1 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

1 pineapple (approximately 4 cups shredded pineapple)

4 cups rhubarb, chopped

juice of 1 orange

grated rind of 1 orange

2 1/3 cups sugar

Core pineapple and remove flesh from skin, then shred into small pieces. Place in a large sauce pan.  Add rhubarb, orange juice, grated orange peel, and sugar. Let sit for 1/2 hour to allow the juice to start flowing; then using medium high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and boil gently for 30-40 minutes or until the mixture is the consistency of jam. Stir frequently — especially towards the end of the cooking time.

A good way to tell if the mixture is the right consistency is to lay the spoon that is used for stirring on a plate. Allow the liquid clinging to the spoon to cool for a few seconds, and see if it has a jam-like consistency.

Pour mixture into hot one-half pint jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Wipe jar rim and adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

Baked Rhubarb with Orange

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, May 2, 1913: My thoughts this evening are hardly worth writing about.

rhubarb with orange

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma—There must have been something worth writing a hundred years ago today. Did you ever try the menus that were published in Good Housekeeping magazine?may.1913.menu

menu.may.3.crop

One of the foods listed on the May 3, 1913 menu is Baked Rhubarb with Orange.  .

Baked Rhubarb with Orange

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon mace

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

5 cups Rhubarb cut into 1 inch pieces

3 oranges

Preheat oven to 375°. In a small bowl combine the sugar, mace, cloves, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

Wash the oranges, and pare off the peel thinly; coarsely chop and then set aside. Remove white inner skin and seeds from oranges and halve. Cut halved oranges into 1-inch pieces.

In a large bowl combine the rhubarb, orange pieces, chopped orange peel, and sugar mixture.  Put into a 2-quart baking dish.

Bake in oven for approximately 45 minutes, or until the mixture is hot and bubbly—and the rhubarb is tender.

Serve hot or cold.

Adapted from recipe in Good Housekeeping (May, 1913)

This dish is excellent. The orange peel and spices nicely balance the tartness of the rhubarb.

According to the old Good Housekeeping magazine:

Rhubarb thus prepared keeps well, and is good morning, noon, and night. As a breakfast relish, nothing is finer than a very tiny saucer of it.

Previous posts with other rhubarb recipes include:

Stewed Rhubarb (Rhubarb Sauce)

Rhubarb Sponge Pie

Rhubarb Pudding

Rhubarb Pudding Recipe

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Thursday, April 25, 1912: I am beginning to worry about final exams. I’m afraid that I may get left in some of my studies. But I hope that it won’t happen that way.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

It sounds like Grandma was at the procrastination stage—she knew that she needed to study, but hadn’t gotten beyond worrying.

When I procrastinate, I think of other things that MUST be done—like cooking.

Here’s an old Rhubarb Pudding recipe that I found in the April 1912 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.

Rhubarb Pudding

Sift together two cupfuls of flour, a pinch of salt, spices as desired, two teaspoonfuls of baking powder and half a cupful of sugar. Stir in one egg beaten with half a cupful of milk and two tablespoonfuls of butter; add two cupfuls of rhubarb, cut into small pieces (use the pink part with the skin left on), bake twenty minutes and serve with a sauce.

The only spice that I used was 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. The batter was extremely thick. I baked the Rhubarb Pudding in a 375 degree oven. It took about 40 minutes for the top to brown lightly. (Maybe I should have used a higher temperature.)

The Rhubarb Pudding was quite good. It was a pleasant mixture of sweet and tart tastes, and had the texture of shortcake.

I served the Rhubarb Pudding with Vanilla Sauce.

Vanilla Sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

dash salt

1 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

dash nutmeg

Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in sauce pan. Add boiling water; and boil until thick and clear. Continue simmering over low heat, while stirring for 20 minutes. Stir in the butter, vanilla, and nutmeg. Can be refrigerated and reheated.

Rhubarb is one of my favorite Spring foods. Here are the links to past posts that included Rhubarb Recipes:

Stewed Rhubarb (Rhubarb Sauce)

Rhubarb Sponge Pie

Rhubarb Sponge Pie Recipe

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Monday, June 5, 1911: Mother, Besse and Ruthie flew around today a baking pies and cakes. I thought it be fun to swipe one, but oh, the result.

Rhubarb Sponge Pie

 Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma’s married sister Besse came to help her mother and sister bake pies and cakes. It sounds like Grandma didn’t help—I wonder why. As a 16-year-old, you’d think that she’d be a competent baker (or at least could help with some of the easier tasks). But instead Grandma apparently was clowning around—and swiped a pie—and got into trouble. Whew, what  punishment was referred to as “the result”?

What kinds of pie did they make? My favorite old-fashioned spring pie is Rhubarb Sponge Pie. (I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. However, it is an old-time Pennsylvania recipe—and the Muffly women may have made a similar pie.)

Rhubarb Sponge Pie

3 eggs

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 cup sugar

dash salt

1 cup milk

2 cups rhubarb

9 inch pie shell (see recipe below)

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Beat eggs slightly. Add flour, nutmeg, sugar, and salt; Beat for 1 minute. Add milk and beat until blended. Stir in rhubarb. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees. Bake (1 – 1  1/2 hours*) until knife inserted into center pie comes out clean.

*This pie takes a long time to bake. If the rhubarb starts to turn brown (burn) before the center of the pie is solid, reduce heat to 300 degrees.

Any pie pastry recipe—or a pie pastry purchased at the store— can be used to make Rhubarb Sponge Pie. But for a really flakey crust with an absolutely awesome taste, make an old-fashioned pie shell using lard.

I absolutely love the recipe below. At the stores where I shop lard can be surprisingly difficult to find—and I am always searching for it so that I can make really good pies. (Clayton and Elizabeth, thank you for the lard that I used to make the pie in the photo!)

In any case, here’s the recipe:

Old-Fashioned Pie Pastry (1 crust, 9 inch)

 1 cup flour

1/3 cup lard

2 to 3 tablespoons cold water

Put flour into bowl. Cut in shortening  using two knives or a pastry blender. Add water and mix using a fork until dough starts to cling together. If needed, add additional water.

With a little practice it’s easy to cut lard (or shortening) into the flour using two knives. I learned how to do it when I was young and have never felt a need to buy a pastry blender.

Gather dough together in a ball. Flatten into a round circle on lightly floured surface (a floured pastry cloth works well).  Roll dough 2 inches larger than needed to fit pie pan using floured rolling pin. Fold pastry into quarters; unfold and fit into pan.

Trim  edge of pastry 1/2 inch from rim of pan. Flute pastry to create edge by pressing between fingers that are moving in opposite directions.

Fluting pie edge

Stewed Rhubarb (Rhubarb Sauce)

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, May 24, 1911: One of these days I’m going to do something of some importance. I’m getting rather tired of the same old duties, the same old ways, and the same old troubles.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Whew, the same old duties, the same old ways, and the same old troubles. I wonder what Grandma was referring to. Sometimes I wish that she’d tell us more about what her daily duties were—and what she didn’t like about the “old ways”. But of course she couldn’t have known that we’d be reading her diary a hundred years later . . .

Since she didn’t tell us much about what happened, I’m going to try to guess what foods the family have might have been eating in late May.

They were probably enjoying fresh greens, radishes, and other spring vegetables from their garden. They probably were also eating rhubarb. It used to be considered one of the spring tonic foods (dandelion was another) that helped restore people’s energy and health after a long winter without fresh foods.

Stewed Rhubarb

When I was a child we often ate Stewed Rhubarb (Rhubarb Sauce) in May. We ate it as a side dish during the main meal. (We ate it warm at the first meal; left-overs were eaten chilled). I don’ t have a recipe for Stewed Rhubarb, and I haven’t made it in years—but yesterday I successfully made it from memory and it tasted just as I remembered.  This is what I did:

Stewed Rhubarb (Rhubarb Sauce)

2 cups rhubarb (cut into 3/4 inch pieces)

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all of the ingredients together in a saucepan. Using medium heat, heat to boiling; reduce temperature and simmer until tender (about 5 minutes); stir occasionally. Remove from heat. Can be served either hot or chilled. 2-3 servings. Recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.

The amount of sugar can be adjusted to make the rhubarb tarter or sweeter.

My husband’s family also ate Stewed Rhubarb when he was a child—and he agrees that the recipe turned out perfectly. He took seconds—and we easily ate all of the rhubarb at one meal. (Next time I’ll make more). And, he suggested that we should have it again soon. It’s definitely an old-time food that we’ve enjoyed rediscovering.