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In Season Now: Rhubarb

When the stalks begin appearing at farmers’ markets throughout the state, I start buying. One for jam. One for muffins. Another for pie. You get the idea.

But, oh, the pie. It’s my favorite use for rhubarb — mixed with strawberries and sugar and encased in a lovely, flaky pie crust. The tart notes of rhubarb are a worthy foil to summer’s sweet strawberries.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. This is about rhubarb, the often red or pink on the outside, and green on the inside vegetable — no, it’s really not a fruit — with a limited season here in Maine. It’s available, typically between mid-May and mid- to late-June. In addition to farmers’ markets, it’s also often available at grocery stores.

It can be used in both sweet and savory applications. Try it in a stir-fry or fried rice sometime. It’s delightful.

Rhubarb is low in calories and a good source of both vitamin C and fiber.  If you grow it, you should know that only the stalks are edible. The leaves contain oxalic acid, which can be toxic.

Look for brightly colored, crisp stalks — they’re often a mix of reddish and greenish — and refrigerate them. Rhubarb should be use within a few days of purchase. It turns quickly.

As for this pie, don’t expect it to last. It gets eaten pretty quickly.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients

2 cups sliced rhubarb

2 cups sliced strawberries

1 cup sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp butter, cut into pieces

1 tbsp milk

Pie crust for a bottom and top crust (homemade or store bought)

Instructions

Preheat the oven 4000F.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract and salt.

Arrange a bottom crust in a pie plate. Pour the prepared rhubarb-strawberry mixture into it, spreading into an even layer. Dot the top with butter.

Spread the top crust onto the pie, taking care to press the top and

bottom crusts together while you fold and crimp it. Use a knife to cut four slits in the top (I recommend a t-shape!). Brush the top crust of the pie with milk, discarding any unused milk.

Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 3500F and bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.

Remove from the oven and cool completely before slicing and serving.

Great with whipped cream.

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