Rhubarb was originally used for medicinal purposes in traditional Chinese medicine over 2000 years ago. The rhubarb plant was native to the Chinese/Tibetan region and brought to Europe in the 18th century, where, as well as being used for its medicinal properties, it was used in cooking, essentially pies and tarts.
Rhubarb is actually a vegetable, which has a tangy and sharp taste, but is used in sweet dishes as a fruit and is accompanied by a large quantity of sugar to sweeten it up.
When combined with sweet tasting fruits such as strawberries, apples or oranges, the flavour of the rhubarb is enhanced but also softened, giving a delicious combination of sweet and sharp that fully compliment each other.
In the UK, classic favourites include rhubarb crumble or just plain rhubarb served with custard, whilst in the US rhubarb pie is immensely popular in some regions, as is rhubarb and strawberry pie
Rhubarb and strawberry pie is usually made during the month of May when the last batches of rhubarb are harvested and prepared with the first season of strawberries for the year.
Rhubarb pie is very simple and quick to make. It is just a matter of preparing the pastry, allowing the fruit to stand and absorb the flavour of the additional ingredients and then baking it in the oven.
Some versions of rhubarb pie are made with a crumble topping rather than a full pastry lid. For those who can't decide between rhubarb pie or rhubarb crumble, this would be the perfect choice.
When preparing the rhubarb, firstly the leaves should be removed as they are poisonous and must not be consumed under any circumstances. Then, cut off the root, wash the rhubarb and coarsely chop into chunks with a sharp knife. If there is any tough or stringy skin, this should also be removed by peeling it off with a potato peeler or a knife.
Rhubarb pie may be served with ice cream, custard or cream and should definitely be eaten warm.
Below are several recipes for rhubarb pie that you shouldn't have too much trouble with in the kitchen.