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Rhubarb History On Three Continents

Rhubarb History On Three Continents

Rhabarbarum forte Dioscoridis, et Antiquorum = Rabarbero = Rubarbe = Rhubarb, circa 1771, Courtesy of the New York Public Library

Rhabarbarum forte Dioscoridis, et Antiquorum = Rabarbero = Rubarbe = Rhubarb, circa 1771, Courtesy of the New York Public Library

Baking contest, Naples, Florida, 1950, Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory Project

Baking contest, Naples, Florida, 1950, Courtesy of State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory Project

It's rhubarb season! The origins of rhubarb dates back to China in 2700 BC when the Chinese cultivated rhubarb for medicinal use. The Italian botanist Prosper Alpinus introduced the more popular edible species to Europe in 1608. People did not recognize it as a food plant and cultivate it as such until 1750 in Germany. Europeans introduced rhubarb first to the New England region in the 1820s where it became a popular ingredient for pastry and pie fillings. Sometime in the nineteenth century it made its way south and became very popular among southerners. This period recipe from the 1950s with its unknown author is most likely from a southern migrant from Mississippi or Louisiana who settled in Chicago.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe

Ingredients

1 recipe for a plain pastry

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup diced rhubarb

1 1/2 cups strawberries cut

1 tablespoon butter

Directions

Mix dry ingredients and add to fruit. Mix all into unbaked shell and dot with butter. Place crisscrossed strips of pastry over the top. Bake at 450°F for 12 minutes then 350°F for 30 minutes.

The Chicago Defender,

June 30, 1951

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