It was called ‘Pie Plant’ because it makes such incredibly good pies and every early farm home in Canada had at least one good patch. Kids used the huge leaves as hats while dipping the sour stalks in small bowls of sugar. We made it into crisps and cobblers, stews and chutneys. Now that my own patch is far away from a toxic black walnut tree, it’s flourishing and this year, I have enough to freeze and to bake into perfect rhubarb pies.
This recipe, from Fred Gordon of Elora, spans his family’s culinary history. He wrote “This recipe is quite old. My Grandmother Sanderson (my Mom’s Mom) had it in her recipe file, written in her Mother’s hand (my GREAT-Grandmother’s), and my Mom has it written in her Mother’s (my Grandmother’s) and mine is in my Mom’s hand.” Fred harvests his own rhubarb for this superb pie for the most delicious version I’ve tasted.
• 1 ¼ cups (300mL) granulated sugar
• ¼ cup (60 mL) all purpose flour
• ¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
• 3 Tbsp (45 mL) orange juice
• Grated rind of 1 orange (optional)
• ¼ cup (60 mL) melted butter
• 3 eggs, separated
• 2 ½ cups (625 mL) diced rhubarb
• One – 9” (23 cm) deep pie shell
In a large bowl, combine 1 cup (250 mL) of the granulated sugar with the flour and the salt. Stir in the orange juice, rind, if using, and the melted butter to make a paste-like consistency.
In a small bowl, gently beat the egg yolks and then stir into the orange juice mixture. Add the diced rhubarb and stir to coat thoroughly.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in ¼ cup (60 mL) sugar until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into rhubarb mixture taking care to incorporate thoroughly but not to deflate the egg whites.
Pour into the pie shell and bake for 25 minutes in a preheated 375’F (190’C) oven. Reduce heat to 325’F (160’C) and bake for 25 to 30 minutes more, or until golden brown and the centre is set. Let cool before serving.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.