Rhubarb and Berry Crisp
Rhubarb is usually thought of as an old-fashioned garden staple and with good reason. Rhubarb is in fact a very old plant. Its medicinal uses and horticulture have been recorded in history since ancient China with records dating back to 2700 BC. The roots of the Chinese variety are still used in medicine today. Marco Polo was very familiar with the Chinese rhizome, and talked about it in accounts of his travels to Asia, helping to establish the importance for trade.
An early planting of rhubarb is recorded in Italy in 1608, and 20 years later in Europe. In 1778 rhubarb is listed as a food plant in Europe, with earliest known usage as a filling for tarts & pies. It is thought that this was probably the first hybrid of the Chinese variety.
Early records of rhubarb in America identify an unnamed Maine gardener as having obtained seed or rootstock from Europe in the period between 1790-1800. He introduced it to growers in Massachusetts where its popularity spread, and by 1822 it was sold in produce markets. Rhubarb was originally considered a vegetable until 1947 when a New York court decided that since the primary use of the produce was for making dessert like items, it should be reclassified as a fruit. This made rhubarb easier to import since there are fewer restrictions on fruits than on vegetables, and also lower import tariffs.
- 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup quick cooking rolled oats
- ¼ finely chopped walnuts, optional
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups sliced rhubarb
- 2 cups mixed berries, (strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry)
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- In mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, oats, walnuts, butter and cinnamon; mix together until crumbly. Press half of the brown sugar and oats mixture into a buttered 8-inch square baking dish.
- Top with the sliced rhubarb, berries and orange zest.
- In a saucepan combine 1 cup granulated sugar, cornstarch, 1 cup of water, and vanilla. Cook together until clear, then pour over rhubarb berry mixture. Top with remaining crumb mixture.
- Bake at 350° for 45 to 55 minutes or until filling is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.