Rhubarb-Pear Crumble

by Patricia Eddy on April 29, 2009

It is finally spring and that means more than just asparagus (though really, asparagus is almost enough for me). Spring in Puget Sound also means rhubarb. I first experimented with rhubarb last year and now, I crave it. This vegetable looks like celery, but the taste is anything but. I always describe it as a sour apple flavor with a texture that cooks down into almost nothing.

Rhubarb-Pear Crumble

Rhubarb-Pear Crumble



You’ve probably heard of rhubarb pies. Those vibrant red pies that seem to spring up this time of year. Well, did you know, that the red color is likely not from the rhubarb itself? Yes! While rhubarb does have a reddish pink tint to it, many of the stalks are green all the way through, with just a bit of red on the outside edges. So the red color you see in rhubarb desserts is quite often caused by BEETS! You won’t taste the beet, but a tiny bit of pureed, juiced, or shredded beet in a rhubarb recipe will color the entire dish without severaly impacting the flavor. We didn’t have any beets, so our rhubarb dish is pretty mild in color.

Thanks to Melanie (from the comments), rhubarb leaves are poisonous. While it will take a lot of leaves (11 pounds!) to actually kill a person, even a leaf or two is enough to make you a bit ill. 

A crumble is a dish made with sliced fruit (or vegetables in this case) and topped with a combination of flour, sugar, and butter. Other ingredients are also commonly used in the topping, such as oats or nuts. We kept it simple this time with just the standard flour, sugar, and butter.

Rhubarb Pear Crumble

  •  4-6 stalks of rhubarb
  • 1 large firm pear
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 4 Tbsp butter

Preheat the oven to 400. 

Wash the ruhbarb and trim the ends. 

Slice the rhubarb into half inch slices. 

Core the pear and cube it. 

Mix the rhubarb, pear, 1.5 cups of the sugar, and the cinnamon. 

Transfer the rhubarb mixture into a baking dish. 

In a mixer, beat the butter, the rest of the sugar, and the flour. Spread over the dish.

Bake for 20-30 minutes.  

Serve alone or topped with vanilla ice cream or custard. 

Results: This is such an easy dish. You don’t even have to follow the proportions exactly. Any amount of sugar, any amount of flour and butter, any spices will work. I imagine cardamom would be a tasty addition, as would ginger (fresh or dried). For the topping, you could add half a cup of oats, hazelnuts, or walnuts. Rhubarb is pretty tart, so you’ll need at least 1 cup of sugar for every 5-7 medium stalks of rhubarb. Apples and strawberries would be a tasty addition for fruit as well. 

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Melanie April 29, 2009 at 9:53 am

mmmm strawberry rhubarb pie….

Important safety note – for folks not familiar with rhubarb, the leaves are poisonous, be sure to only eat the stalks.

Jane Hensley April 29, 2009 at 12:31 pm

I second (third?) the strawberry rhubarb pie – you also get more of the red coloring that way as well.

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