What is Pie Plant?

I found a recipe for Pie-Plant Pie in an 1877 cookbook. I had never heard of this before and did some research.

Rhubarb was referred to as pie plant over 100 years ago. It first came to North America in the late 1700s. Early on, it was mostly eaten in pies, which gave rhubarb its nickname.

Though rhubarb is a vegetable, may consider it a fruit because it is cooked in tarts, pies, and sauces.

Hothouse rhubarb is generally pink or pale red with yellow-green leaves. This type is sweeter and milder than the field grown variety, which are red with green leaves.

Never eat the leaves. They contain oxalic acid, poisonous to humans.

The stalks are crisp, similar to celery. The vegetable has a tart taste.

When cooking, cut the stalks in small pieces. It can be stewed in water with sugar until soft. Because the vegetable is highly acidic, don’t use aluminum pots to cook it. Rhubarb has a lot of water so not much water is needed in cooking.

Make a rhubarb sauce with such spices as ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg, usually eaten cold.

Because of the acidic qualities, store only in glass or stainless steel. The stalks may be stored and refrigerated in sealed plastic bags for one week. It also freezes well.

Whenever I see pie-plant in an old recipe, I’ll know they mean rhubarb.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Compiled from Original Recipes. Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, Applewood Books, 1877.

Land O’Lakes Test Kitchen. “The ‘Pie Plant:’ All About Rhubarb,” Land O’Lakes, Inc., 2018/07/23


“Rhubarb,” Wikipedia.com, 2018/07/23 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhubarb.


2 thoughts on “What is Pie Plant?

  1. I love rhubarb and used to eat it raw as I like sour stuff. I have a fabulous recipe for rhubarb cake. Kind of like a coffee cake. Thanks gor the information about Pie Plant!


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