What’s your favorite pie?
Mine is strawberry rhubarb, without a question. When it’s the season (usually mid- to late-spring), and both strawberries and rhubarb are available in the market, it’s the one pie that we must make.
Video: How to Make Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
How to Make Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
What Is Rhubarb?
Do you cook with rhubarb? It looks like pinkish red celery, or the stems of really fat Swiss chard.
In the store, you’ll only find the stems, as the green leaves are poisonous. The stems, however, are tart and delicious, especially when cooked into a pie or cobbler.
I know, it’s weird. Rhubarb is a vegetable that behaves like a fruit.
Rhubarb grows wild in many parts of the U.S. (not here in Sacramento unfortunately). My father remembers when he was a kid in Minnesota, picking it from the back yard and dipping the raw stems in sugar to eat, like nature’s version of a Jolly Rancher candy.
What Does Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Taste Like?
Rhubarb loves to be paired with strawberries, and in a pie, they’re BFFs. The tartness of the rhubarb just intensifies the sweet flavor of the strawberries. The overall flavor isn’t overly sweet or overly tart; it’s just right.
How to Prepare the Rhubarb
If your rhubarb stalks have any leaves, or pieces of leaves, still attached, trim those away (rhubarb leaves are poisonous and should never be eaten.) Sometimes later-season rhubarb can be a bit tough and stringy on the outside. You can peel those outside stringy parts if you want, otherwise usually you don't need to peel rhubarb. Slice the stalks into 1/2 inch pieces, just like you would celery.
How Is the Filling Thickened?
I use quick cooking, or "minute," tapioca to thicken the filling for this recipe. Quick cooking tapioca has good gelling power and does an excellent job of absorbing the juice from even the juiciest fruit so that you can still get a fairly clean slice. Once cooked, tapioca becomes clear, so the beautiful pink hue of the pie is unmarred.
Tapioca also works best if you allow it to sit with the fruit for a few minutes to soften and begin absorbing juices before filling the pie or baking, which is why we suggest letting the strawberry and rhubarb filling sit for 10 minutes.
If you don't have access to quick tapioca, you can use cornstarch as a substitute, the same amount.
How to Store Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
It’s hard to be patient, but try to let the pie cool before slicing. The closer it is to room temperature, the more it will have set and you can get a cleaner slice.
Fruit pies like this strawberry rhubarb pie can be stored at room temperature for about 2 days, or longer if refrigerated. Cover the pie loosely with plastic wrap or an overturned mixing bowl. Let refrigerated pie come up to room temperature before serving.
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How to Buy the Best Rhubarb
If possible, buy rhubarb in season—usually April through June—at the farmers market, where it should be just picked and at its peak. Whether you're at the farmers market or at the grocery store, look for stalks that are firm, not flabby or rubbery, without blemishes. If the stalks still have their leaves, cut them off and discard them. Do not eat the leaves, which are poisonous.
If you're making this pie with out of rhubarb season, you'll probably need to buy frozen rhubarb. While fresh strawberries are always available out of season, fresh rhubarb rarely is.
Swaps and Substitutions
- You can use frozen rhubarb and/or strawberries in this pie. Thaw the fruit in the refrigerator first. Frozen rhubarb will not give off too much liquid when thawed, but frozen strawberries will give off a lot of liquid. While you may lose a little flavor by draining the liquid from the thawed fruit, we do recommend draining it or you risk having a soupy pie and a soggy crust, even if you use extra tapioca.
- No strawberries? Substitute raspberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, or apples.
- Use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch as a replacement for the tapioca. Check out this cornstarch guide for more information.
- Substitute lemon zest for the orange zest.
- Add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or both.
Tips for the Best Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
The biggest problem with making the best pie possible is usually a runny filling or a soggy bottom crust, or both. Try these tips to avoid that problem.
- Bake the pie until the filling bubbles rapidly to ensure it thickens properly. The filling needs to get to a boiling point for the tapioca to efficiently do its thickening job.
- Bake the pie on the bottom rack of the oven for the first 20 minutes to help cook the bottom crust and avoid sogginess.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Quick cooking tapioca works well as a thickener for pies, especially strawberry rhubarb. Though if the pie is still warm when you cut it, it will be a little runny. If you don't have access to quick tapioca, you can use cornstarch as a substitute, same amount.
If making a 10 inch pie, or just want more filling, use 4 cups of rhubarb, 2 1/2 cups strawberries, and up to 1 1/4 cup of sugar.
3 1/2 cups (440g) rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2 inch pieces (trim away and discard the leaves which are poisonous; trim ends)
2 cups (280g) stemmed and sliced strawberries
3/4 to 1 cup sugar (depending on how tart/sweet you like your pie)
4 tablespoons quick cooking ("minute") tapioca
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 double-crust 9-inch pie dough recipe, like this one or your favorite pie crust recipe
1 large egg white, beaten, or 1 tablespoon cream for brushing, optional
Preheat the oven:
Place rack in the middle and preheat the oven to 400°F.
Assemble the pie filling:
In a large bowl, gently combine the rhubarb and the strawberries with the sugar, tapioca, salt, and orange zest. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Roll out the bottom crust and fill the pie:
Roll out one disc of pastry dough and line the bottom of a pie dish with it. Trim to 1/2 inch from the edge. Transfer the filling into the crust and spread out evenly.
Top the pie:
Roll out the second disc of pastry dough and place over the pie. Trim the edges to an inch from the edge of the pie dish. Tuck the top crust edges over the bottom crust edges and use your fingers or a fork to crimp the top and bottom edges together. Cut slits in the top for the steam to escape.
(If you want, for a nice glaze on your pie, use a pastry brush to brush a thin layer of egg white or cream over the top of the pie.)
Bake the pie:
Place pie on the middle rack of the 400°F oven with a baking sheet on a lower rack to catch any juices that might spill over.
Bake for 20 minutes at 400°F, then reduce heat to 350°F and bake an additional 40-50 minutes longer (50 to 60 minutes longer if doing a 10-inch pie). The pie is done when the crust is nicely browned and the filling (that you can see through the venting holes) thick and bubbly.
Cool and serve:
Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.
Serve warm or cold. If you do cool to room temperature, the juices will have more time to thicken. Pie can also be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or refrigerated for 5 days.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 19g||24%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||32%|
|Total Carbohydrate 71g||26%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||13%|
|Total Sugars 29g|
|Vitamin C 25mg||127%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|