Monday, May 07, 2012


You have to live where the cold wind blows, where snow drifts, and where everything freezes over in order to grow rhubarb.  Rhubarb is the fruit of the prairie homesteader.  If you didn't like rhubarb, then you probably didn't get much for *fruit* out on the prairie 'cause there wasn't much else growing.  Some prairies -- not all -- have a few wild plums, some chokecherries, and wild rose hips, but not much else.  Rhubarb plants were carried out to the prairies by homesteaders because they would grow robustly in poor soil and would provide vitamins and minerals every spring to fruit-hungry mouths that had waited all winter long for a tangy bite rhubarb sauce or rhubarb pie.

 Have you ever noticed rhubarb and lilacs growing where an old homestead had once stood?  Tough plants both, withstanding tough times.  I have found rhubarb patches growing in different places here on our ranch in spots where families once tried to prove-up on their 160 acres.  Some homesteaders made it, many did not, but the rhubarb survived. 

I have very fond memories of my grandpa and grandma's farm in eastern South Dakota where there was a rhubarb patch on every farm and rhubarb in most backyards.  We kids used to go pick us a long stalk from their humongous patch and bring it into the house to dip into sugar and eat it raw.  I don't recommend eating rhubarb this way, but kids tend to eat things like raw rhubarb and crab apples despite their parents' warnings of bellyache. 

My own parents carried rhubarb roots from Grandpa & Grandma's farm to their backyard, and I took root cuttings from the folks' plants and rooted them in my own backyard years ago.  I have since moved old plants and split my own rhubarb to grow in various spots in my yard and to share with my daughter in town.  The original mother plant still refuses to give up growing even though I thought I had totally uprooted her to a new spot.  A tiny bit of root lives on.  Hardy plants for a hardy people.

Did you know that rhubarb is packed with vitamins A and C and with minerals potassium, magnesium, and calcium?  No wonder it was considered spring tonic!  All I know is that I like rhubarb best in fresh rhubarb-custard pie with a little vanilla ice cream on the side.  Oh, I have lots and lots of other rhubarb recipes that are delicious, but this is my favorite of all.  Spring has come and summer is on the way when the first rhubarb pie is whacked up.  (Don't watch while I lick the plate.)


  1. You would not believe the hoops I have had to jump through to get rhubarb. It is too hot here, but I have some and I am hoping it lasts out the summer. I love rhubarb. I think that is such a nice story about it growing like it does on all of your places. Your pie looks wonderful.

  2. MMMM...That looks delicious. I LOVE rhubarb, especially in a pie.

  3. Good old rhubarb. Gotta love it. Loved hearing about the old homesteads. Great post, as always! xo

  4. so retyping my first comment that didn't work for some reason...blogger...arghh....

    anyway, was saying that last years rhubarb is still in the freezer, and this years is almost ready to pick! I am going to try Rhubarb Juice...have you ever tried making it?

    Have a wonderful rest of the week,

  5. Farm Girl, see what I mean? Rhubarb insists upon a good, hard freeze time. I hope you get a nice crop of rhubarb.

    No I have never tried rhubarb juice, but I can imagine it would go well in many things. In fact, I've seen it used in hard drinks, but I'm thinking it might be good in smoothies. What will you use the juice for?

    Thanks for your comments!


  6. Oooh, that looks delicious Jody! It looks like apple pie LOL.

  7. That's one thing I really miss from living in Iowa!! I adore rhubarb, esp. in rhubarb/strawberry cobbler in the summer ... yum!!!

  8. Funny, right before I read your post, Jack was asking me what rhubarb was. I told him about making rhubarb pie and adding lots and lots of sugar ...

    I love that your rhubarb plants are descendants of your parents' and grandparents' plants. How cool is that?


  9. Well, that looks delicious! Sadly, I have never tasted rhubarb. Guess that kinda makes us even -- I have gardenias & you have rhubarb ;)? Love the story of your plants going from home to home -- very sweet.

  10. While it's true that rhubarb does grow where it's snowy and cold, it also grows in the Pacific Northwest. In western Washington, it grows with HUGE leaves and stalks. Just made some rhubarb crisp yesterday while visiting my mom. Then it was back to Montana where it grows well here too.

  11. Jody, I had my first ever taste of rhubarb in a strawberry-rhubarb pie a few weeks ago at our small group and I thought of you. It was delish!!!!!

  12. I've always lived too far south for rhubarb-growing, but I love it in strawberry-rhubarb pie.

  13. Oh yummy!! I need to get some rhubarb! Our patch died out. But lots of people have some to share around here. I love rhubarb sauce on plain yogurt! So good!

  14. Oh Rhubarb....I love you! Last week, you arrived at the local farmers' market and I noticed a small crowd of us old-folks were the only ones sorting through the stalks, relishing rhubarb season! A lady and I talked about our favorite rhubarb recipes and exchanged emails so we could pass them on to each other. I know she'll love you all dressed up in rhubarb custard pie and I hear you make a refreshing sorbet! So glad you're here, even if I can't be the one to cut you free from the plant.


  15. Oh, YUMMY! Sorry I'm so late getting over here. Is there any rhubarb crisp left?
    Last summer I made a crisp and I ate the WHOLE thing and gained five pounds, I think! Oh, it was GOOD! We've always had rhubarb to eat in my family. My mother used to make sauce and we'd eat it for breakfast. My neighbor used to have some but she has pulled up her entire garden. I hope the rhubarb will appear anyway. It's sneaky like that!
    Okay, just reading about it and looking at your pictures will do for now.
    Happy Mother's Day, Jody-friend!

  16. Can't wait for the first rhubarb which we have to buy. Some of the younger clerks at the supermarket don't know what it is, and we have to tell them. Sometimes I make a compote of rhubarb, frozen cranberries left from fall, and strawberries. With a bit of orange rind, orange juice and (naturally) sugar, it tastes really good, esp. with a bit of cream.


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