Ideally, rhubarb should be cooked early in the summer season, while the stalks are still rosy and slender. The older (and hence thicker) rhubarb gets, the more sugar it takes to offset its characteristic tartness.
Warning! Do not nibble on the leaves of this plant as you cook, not even if you're a rabbit. They contain potassium oxalate, which can cause poisoning when consumed in large quantities. Remember: just the stalks!
- Prepare pie crust, rolling out two flat rounds about 10" in diameter. Fit the first into a 9" pan, and trim the overhanging crust to about an inch all around. Place the other between two sheets of waxed or parchment paper. Refrigerate pastry.Preheat oven to 425 F.
Cut 2 lbs of rhubarb stalks into 1" lengths. Measure out five cups, and combine with 1.5-2 cups of sugar, 1/4 c. quick-cooking tapioca, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let this mixture stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour into the bottom crust of the pie shell. Cover with top crust (which can be placed whole atop the bottom shell and pierced in a decorative design, or sliced into stripes and layed atop for for a lattice design). Be careful to seal the top crust layer(s) to the bottom by pressing firmly.
Lightly brush the top of the pie with a little cream, sprinkle with sugar, and bake at 425 for 30 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and bake another 25-30 minutes.
My Mom's Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie
- Prepare rhubarb pie as above, substituting half strawberries (2 1/2 c.) for half the rhubarb, and cut back a bit on the sugar.
Rhubarb pie is excellent with a little vanilla ice cream after dinner, but is best when eaten as a midnight snack on the back porch with a cold glass of milk and a sky full of July stars.