Forgotten Rhubarb Recipes • from crumble to fool! (2024)

Vintage rhubarb recipes your great grandma made ~ from crumbles and pies, to cordials and fools ~ and they’re ready for a delicious comeback!

Forgotten Rhubarb Recipes • from crumble to fool! (1)

vintage rhubarb recipes

Rhubarb is easy to grow and there are rhubarb patches in backyards all over America hitting their stride right now. With the proper care, it can produce from April right through fall. Rhubarb is also one of the first crops available in the spring, which helps explain why there are so many beloved rhubarb recipes out there.

Rhubarb is often paired with sweet strawberries to balance out its famously tart taste but in these classic recipes rhubarb is the star. The flavor is sour if you try to eat it raw, but cooked rhubarb mellows out and has a berry-like flavor that so many of us (raising hand!) find irresistible.

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Rhubarb was definitely more popular in the past century than it is now, particularly during the early to mid-1900s. In fact, during World War II, rhubarb became an important crop because it was hardy and could grow in less than ideal conditions. Our grandmas and great-grandmas treasured their rhubarb recipes but so many of them have been forgotten. Here are just a few of the best.

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Rhubarb Ice Cream

Rhubarb ice cream has been around for many years and was particularly popular in the early 1900s when ice cream parlors were in their heyday. It’s since been eclipsed by modern ice cream flavors, but the tart flavor is definitely one you need to try.

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Rhubarb Jelly

Rhubarb jelly is a great way to ‘spring-i-fy’ your morning toast or scone. But did you know it was also a dessert? It was especially popular in the early to mid-20th century, when jellies and other molded desserts were in vogue.

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Rhubarb Curd

Silky rhubarb curd is a throwback to traditional British farmhouse cooking where every last stalk of rhubarb would have been used in pies and preserves like this one.

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Old Fashioned Rhubarb Crunch

Rhubarb crunch is a dessert that is similar to a crisp or a crumble. It is made with a layer of diced rhubarb on the bottom, topped with a mixture of oats, flour, sugar, and butter. When baked, the topping becomes crispy and golden brown, while the rhubarb becomes soft and tender.

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Rhubarb Cordial

This old time tipple is easily made by infusing cooked rhubarb with vodka. The traditional way is to let the mixture sit for about a month. My way is faster and I think produced better rhubarb flavor ~ give it a try!

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Rhubarb Fool

This vintage rhubarb recipe has been around since the 1600s! Basically you fold cooked rhubarb into whipped cream and you’ve done it! It’s light and refreshing, but obviously rich at the same time. All in all, rhubarb fool is a fabulous spring dessert that takes hardly any effort at all.

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Rhubarb Soda

The way they used to refresh before co*ke and Pepsi! Just mix a rhubarb simple syrup with fizzy water and voila!

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Rhubarb Shortcake

Strawberry shortcake doesn’t hold a candle to rhubarb shortcake! How could it? Rhubarb brings its famously tart berry flavor to the party and makes this dessert even more irresistible.

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Rhubarb Butter

Rhubarb butter is a sweet spread made from cooked rhubarb that is blended to a smooth, buttery consistency. It concentrates the unique flavor of rhubarb

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Rhubarb Bars

Gorgeously pink and tangy rhubarb curd bars are right off the church bazaar bake sale table, where they’re always to first to disappear.

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No Bake Rhubarb Dream Bars

You won’t find anything like these rhubarb dream bars at a restaurant or a bakery, they’re the kind of thing your grandma would whip up on a summer afternoon — they have a simple, vintage charm.

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Rhubarb Bread

Old fashioned rhubarb bread is a tender quick bread loaded with sweet tart nuggets of fruit. Grandma would have offered you a slice the minute you walked into her kitchen.

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Rhubarb Pudding Cake

This recipe dates back to the 1930s and is a delicious combination of tangy rhubarb and sweet cake. If you’ve had my Warm Lemon Pudding Cake you’ll have the idea. The one below is from Seasons & Suppers.

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Rhubarb Custard Pie

This is a classic American dessert that was popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is made by lining a pie crust with stewed rhubarb, then pouring a custard mixture over the top and baking until set. The Lemon Apron’s version is below.

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Rhubarb Grunt

This is one classic rhubarb dessert recipe that definitely stands the test of time, from Boulder Locavore.

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Rhubarb Pie

Garnish and Glaze’s rhubarb pie has a gorgeous old time style lattice crust.

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Pickled Rhubarb

A super simple pickled rhubarb recipe from Autumn Giles’ Beyond Canning. If you love ‘quickles’, check out my How To Quick Pickle (almost) Anything tutorial.

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Rhubarb wine

The University of Vermont sustainable food systems program shares this easy method for making old time rhubarb wine. I like it because you don’t need any special wine making equipment.

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Sugar Rhubarb

Eating raw rhubarb dipped in sugar is a traditional practice, especially among children, in the Northern United States, Canada, and Scandinavian countries. In Sweden it’s known as “rabarberpaj,” or rhubarb pie.

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Sugar Rhubarb

5 from 6 votes

Nostalgic rhubarb recipes you'll want to try this spring!

Print RecipePin RecipeRate Recipe

Prep Time:5 minutes minutes

Total Time:5 minutes minutes

Servings: 1


  • 1 stalk raw rhubarb, washed
  • sugar for dipping


  • Rinse your rhubarb and trim both ends. Be sure to trim off all the leaves, as they are toxic.

  • Dip the ends of the rhubarb into the sugar and enjoy! Double dipping is encouraged 🙂

NEW FEATURE! Click here to add your own private notes.

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: American

Author: Sue Moran

Keyword: dessert, rhubarb, spring


Serving: 1 stalk · Calories: 27 kcal · Carbohydrates: 7 g · Protein: 0.5 g · Fat: 0.1 g · Saturated Fat: 0.03 g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1 g · Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02 g · Sodium: 2 mg · Potassium: 147 mg · Fiber: 1 g · Sugar: 5 g · Vitamin A: 52 IU · Vitamin C: 4 mg · Calcium: 44 mg · Iron: 0.1 mg

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although The View from Great Island attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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Forgotten Rhubarb Recipes • from crumble to fool! (2024)


How do you reduce the rhubarb tartness? ›

Solution: Soak the rhubarb in water to reduce the acid, simmer in orange juice and sugar (and don't stir too much) to retain texture and color, and layer with lightly whipped, sweetened cream for ideal flavor and texture and an attractive, unusual presentation.

Why is my rhubarb crumble soggy? ›

- There's to much moisture in your fruit. Try mixing a little corn flour into the rhubarb before baking. - Your crumble has cooked to quickly. Try turning down the temperature and baking your crumble for longer.

What can you do with rhubarb? ›

Rhubarb is a truly special ingredient. With its vivid pink colour and distinctively tangy taste, it can be stewed, poached, roasted and puréed in a range of dishes as well as drinks. Use it in a comforting crumble, a classic syllabub, a fruity chutney or a zingy kebab sauce – the possibilities are endless.

Does forced rhubarb need sugar? ›

For the gardener these stretched stems have far less of the bitterness associated with traditional, non-forced rhubarb. The pale stems need less sugar to balance their tartness, while the taste is all together more delicate. Combined with their tender texture, it makes forced rhubarb a king among early crops.

What cancels out tartness? ›

How Do You Neutralize Sour Taste in Food? If a dish is too sour, add a little bit of sugar! Sweetness balances out sour flavors, so if something makes your mouth pucker, a dash of sugar may help soften the blow of the sour food.

What enhances the Flavour of rhubarb? ›

While cinnamon may be a more common spice to pair with rhubarb, citrusy, herbal cardamon lends a warm, citrusy note to a dish. A big pinch of ground cardamom can be added to any cake, pie, or compote, or you can simply add a little to the whipped cream you'll be topping your rhubarb dessert with.

What is the secret to crunchy crumble? ›

A pastry chef friend shared the technique. Instead of sprinkling the raw crumbs on top of the fruit, where they absorb the juices and turn a little mushy on their undersides, he spread them out in a pan and baked them separately, until crisp and cookielike.

How do you keep crumble topping crisp? ›

Butter, which encourages both browning and crispness, is the magic ingredient in getting your topping just right, so follow the recipe instructions. But if you feel your topping is still too dry and crumbly, (even for a crumble) add a bit more melted butter, a tablespoon at a time.

Can you fix a soggy crumble? ›

The most common culprit of a soggy crumble is the use of too much butter! Try adding just a bit more flour to soak it up.

What does rhubarb do to human body? ›

Its stalk is commonly eaten. Its root and underground stem are used in traditional Chinese medicine combinations. Rhubarb contains chemicals that might help heal cold sores and reduce swelling. Rhubarb also contains fiber, which might help reduce cholesterol levels and affect stomach conditions.

What does rhubarb do to your body? ›

Health benefits of rhubarb may include:

Helping to keep bones healthy and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Assisting wound healing. Protecting against heart disease. Aiding digestion.

How many cups is two pounds of rhubarb? ›

A cup is a measure of volume while pounds is a measure of weight so a direct calculation is difficult. If we only take liquid weight into account, one cup is eight ounces and two pounds would be 32 ounces so two pounds of rhubarb would equate to 4 cups.

Why can't you eat too much rhubarb? ›

High in oxalic acid

Rhubarb contains approximately 570–1,900 mg of oxalate per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). The leaves contain the most oxalate, comprising 0.5–1.0% of the leaf ( 3 ). Too much oxalate in the body can lead to a condition known as hyperoxaluria, which is when excess oxalate is excreted in the urine.

Do coffee grounds help rhubarb? ›

Rhubarb prefers a pH below 7.0 (neutral to acidic — adding peat moss, compost, coffee grounds and Espoma Holly-Tone organic fertilizer can help acidify soil).

Should diabetics eat rhubarb? ›

Rhubarb is great for diabetics Rhubarb contains various compounds called anthraquinones. Two of these compounds have been found to improve the transport of glucose into our cells, so it's not hanging out in the bloodstream but is instead being used as fuel.

How do you tone down tartness? ›

Tartness is a subset of sourness, but it implies that the acidity is coming specifically from citrus. It's easily counteracted with a small amount of sugar, honey or maple syrup.

Why is my rhubarb so tart? ›

Rhubarb varieties

The stalks come in two different colors, red and green. It is said that the green varieties are a bit more tart and have a sharper taste than the red types.

How do you make rhubarb sweeter? ›

It also can rely on some of nature's best sweeteners—honey and orange juice—to bring it to its sweetest, most flavorful heights.

Why is my rhubarb so sour? ›

Rhubarb is exceptionally sour, making it hard to eat raw or without sugar. The sour taste is mainly due to malic acid and oxalic acid — though forced rhubarb is much less sour than other varieties.

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