Sweet, tart and fruity, with a rich crumble topping, Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is a fun dessert that’s easy and tasty!
Is there anything that welcomes the growing season quite as joyfully as rhubarb?
Barbara Kingsolver fans may remember her delight in spotting fresh stalks at a farmer’s market during her year of eating locally (chronicled in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle). Fruit? her daughter had scrawled hopefully on the shopping list.
Of course it’s not much later when a new ray of sunshine arrives with the strawberry crop. Plump sweet berries are the hero of June.
Combine the two and all the chill of winter is forgotten. The respective tart and sweet flavors partner perfectly in so many dishes. And especially this Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie.
What is Rhubarb?
Per Wikipedia “Rhubarb is the fleshy, edible stalks (petioles) of species and hybrids (culinary rhubarb) of Rheum in the family Polygonaceae, which are cooked and used for food.” Because the plant is high in toxic oxalic acid, only the stems (with lesser amounts) are eaten.
In terms of nutrition WebMD tells us that
“Rhubarb is rich in antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins (which give it its red color) and proanthocyanidins. These antioxidants have anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties, which help protect you from many health-related issues such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Other nutrients in rhubarb include Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Potassium, Folate, Manganese [and] Magnesium”
Is rhubarb a fruit or a vegetable? Botanically, the rhubarb is a vegetable, since it is the stem of the plant. But like tomatoes, the botanical definition doesn’t quite match the cooking uses!
Pairing Rhubarb and Strawberry
Strawberry and rhubarb make a classic flavor combination that blends tart (rhubarb) and sweet (strawberries) to perfection. The two are commonly found in crisps and double crust pies, but I decided to make a crumb topping for my pie today. The crumb topping comes from the classic Betty Crocker French Apple Pie which is one of my most popular posts!
Why You’ll Love This!
Tasty. Sweet, tart and crunchy the Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie is a taste delight.
Simple. While today’s crust is homemade, I’ve used many a pre-formed frozen crust in my life. Then this is super simple! Just pour in the filling mixture, blend up the crumb topping with your fingers, sprinkle on top and bake. It’s a perfect beginner pie.
Healthy (for a dessert anyway). I love fruit-based desserts. They give you some important nutrients and still feel indulgent. How good is that!
What You’ll Need
- Single pie crust. Homemade or commercial. You need a single crust for bottom only.
- Rhubarb. This provides the tart component of the filling.
- Strawberries. This provides the sweet component of the filling.
- Sugar. This sweetens the filling some more.
- Quick cooking tapioca. This thickens the filling. See discussion below on use of other thickeners.
- Flour. This is part of the crumble topping.
- Brown sugar. This sweetens the crumble topping.
- Butter. This enriches the topping and helps it hold together.
- No special tools required!
Step by Step Directions
Prepare (or unwrap) your crust.
Cut up your strawberries and rhubarb.
Mix the rhubarb and strawberries with the tapioca and sugar. Let rest at least 5 minutes.
Mix up the crumble topping ingredients.
Stir the filling mixture, then pour into the crust.
Top with the crumb topping, then bake.
When the filling is bubbling up vigorously on the sides, remove and let cool. Enjoy!
How to Serve
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie makes a tasty and special dessert or snack. I like it plain, or topped with ice cream, or served with a dollop of whipped cream.
Can you believe there’s a lot of controversy about the exact right ratio of strawberries to rhubarb? I like to go halfsies, but would go up or down without hesitation if I were short of one or the other.
Now if you are more of a sweet strawberry lover, feel free to go with a higher strawberry ratio. Or for tart rhubarb fans, you can weigh the ratio in favor of rhubarb. Just stick with a total of 6 cups. There. Matter settled.
You can also make this with a double crust if you prefer.
Refrigerate the leftovers since the moist fruit can start to mold after a day or so. I sometimes take off the chill with a few seconds in the microwave.
If you have leftovers that you can’t finish within a few days it is possible to freeze this. In fact I froze a sample piece to test for this post and was surprised that the topping was still crispy after thawing, uncovered, at room temperature.
Tips & FAQs
It’s summer—can I still harvest rhubarb? How late into the season you can harvest your rhubarb depends on the health of your plant. While it’s normal for rhubarb to decline after spring, the speed and amount can vary. I have two clumps and one still looks good in July while the other has notably died back.
So I’m still harvesting gently–but just from the stronger one. The weaker plant gets to save all of it’s energy for winter. For more on growing rhubarb take a look at Stressed Out Rhubarb / Rhubarb Growing Tips.
Can I use a different thickener instead of tapioca? I like tapioca for berry pies because it thickens well, even when there is a lot of juice like with berries. And it stays clear, so you don’t lose the beautiful “jewel” tones they have. But, yes, you can use other thickeners if you make the substitution properly.
For more information on when and how to substitute one thickener for another, see Crafty Baking. To work with other thickeners, some people even sprinkle the fruit with sugar and drain off the juices ahead of time. But that’s an extra step—and I want my juices!
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Pie
- 1 Single pie crust your favorite, for bottom only
- 3 cups rhubarb chopped in half inch pieces
- 3 cups strawberries chopped to about the same size
- ¾-1 cup sugar see note
- ¼ cup quick cooking tapioca
- 1 c flour
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 1/2 c butter
- Prepare (or unwrap) your crust.
- Cut up your strawberries and rhubarb as needed.
- Mix the rhubarb and strawberries with the tapioca and sugar. Let mixture rest at least 5 minutes.
- Mix up the crumble topping ingredients. (I use my fingers)
- Stir the filling mixture again, then pour into the crust.
- Top with the crumb topping.
- Bake at 400F for about an hour. Check periodically to see that the crust and/or topping isn’t getting too dark. If it is, loosely place a piece of aluminum foil on top.
- When the filling is bubbling up vigorously on the sides, remove and cool on a rack.
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