Strawberry rhubarb meringue pie combines tart rhubarb and sweet strawberries in a golden crust and topped with fluffy sweet meringue.
Being born and raised in Mississippi, I consider myself to be a Southern girl. I was, however, raised by natives of Chicago. Growing up, I did not drink my tea sweet. My peas did not have black-eyes. My cornbread came out of a box that said Jiffy.
Since marrying The Husband, I have grown to love Southern cuisine. However, rhubarb meringue pie is one of those Northern recipes I grew up eating that I still cling to. I call it a Northern recipe because rhubarb is still sort of an enigma down here. Where my grandparents used to live in the south suburbs of Chicago, people grew it in their gardens. Every summer, my grandmother would go to a neighbor’s house and stock up.
The climate is much too hot and humid to grow rhubarb in Mississippi. Frequently, the only time Southerners are exposed to rhubarb is when the local grocery store devotes a tiny bin in a remote section of produce section for a couple of months every summer. Even then, when I’m paying for my prized stalks, I usually have to explain to the cashier that it’s not Swiss chard they are holding in their hands.
It never occured to me that rhubarb meringue pie was not in the same league as apple pie or peach cobbler until one summer when I was still in high school and my BFF came to Illinois with me for a visit. My grandma asked if she would like a slice of rhubarb meringue pie. My BFF responded with a blank stare and hesitantly responded, “What is that?”
“You’ve never had rhubarb pie?” I asked.
Thinking she was in for the treat of her life, I cut her a slice and handed her a fork. She took a few bites and then politely laid the fork down on the table.
“Well, what did you think?”
“You didn’t like it?”
“Not really. I’m sorry.”
It was then that I discovered rhubarb is an acquired taste. Alas, even The Husband won’t eat it. If I want rhubarb meringue pie, I have to plan to make it on a weekend when my parents are in town so I have someone to help me eat it.
What is Rhubarb, Anyway?
The Husband refers rhubarb pie as vegetable pie. And he’s right, rhubarb is a vegetable. Only the stalks of the rhubarb plant are harvested. The leaves are actually poisonous. The stalks can range in color from dark red, to pink, to light green.
Rhubarb resembles celery in its shape and texture. But trust me, unlike celery you don’t want to bite down on a raw stalk of rhubarb as a mi-afternoon snack. It’s terribly tart. As in it feels like your mouth is about to turn inside out. However, when baked with a little sugar, such as in a pie, the tart flavor mellows.
How to Bake Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue Pie
Growing up, we always ate just straight rhubarb pie. Pairing rhubarb with sweet strawberries is a popular combination because it further helps to cut down on the tart flavor.
Start by cutting your rhubarb stalks into bite-sized pieces. If you have an exceptionally large stalk, you may need to half the stalk lengthwise before chopping it. You need about two cups of chopped rhubarb. Place the chopped rhubarb in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Next coarsely chop your strawberries. You’ll need about one cup of strawberries. Add the strawberries to the bowl with the rhubarb.
Lightly beat three egg yolks (but don’t throw away those whites, we’ll use those later). Stir in sugar, flour and melted butter. Add the sugar mixture to the strawberries and rhubarb. Mix together thoroughly. Let it stand for about 30 minutes. The sugar draws out some of the juice. The flour and egg yolks will help thicken it into a custard while it bakes.
During that time, get your pie shell ready. You can use a store-bought, or you can make your own using this recipe. Gently drape the pie crust into a pie plate. Trim and flute the edges. Store the pie crust in the fridge until you area ready to bake. Go ahead and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
After the 30 minutes are up, pour the rhubarb strawberry mixture into the pie crust. I recommend lining a baking sheet with foil because the pie filling has a tendency to bubble and run. This will save you a lot of clean up later. Bake the pie for approximately 50-60 minutes until it becomes firm. If it still looks a bit wobbly when you take it out of the oven, don’t worry. I will continue to thicken as it cools.
While the pie is baking, make your meringue. If you are new to making meringue, check out my tips on making fool-proof meringue. Make sure your egg whites are at room temperature. Combine them in a mixing bowl with a little cream of tartar. Whip the egg whites until they are at soft peaks. Add a little sugar and continue beating until they double in volume.
Immediately after the pie comes out of the oven, spread your meringue over the top. Be sure to spread the meringue to the very edges of the pie to seal it to the crust. Reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees and bake for about 10 minutes until the meringue is golden. Allow the pie to cool at room temperature before serving.
I love the mix of tangy and sweet. To this day, strawberry rhubarb meringue pie still remains one of my favorite childhood desserts.
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Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue Pie
- 2 cups cut up rhubarb
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
- 3 egg yolks
- 1-1/3 cups sugar
- 5 tablespoons flour
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 pie crust*
- 3 egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ cup sugar
- Place sliced rhubarb and strawberries in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Combine slightly beaten egg yolks with sugar and flour. Add the mixture to the rhubarb strawberry mixture. Add the melted butter and stir. Allow to stand 30 minutes.
- Pour mixture into a prepared pie shell and bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until firm.
- Meanwhile, beat egg whites with cream of tartar on medium speed with an electric mixer until frothy. Slowly add sugar while beating until egg whites stand in stiff peaks.
- Top hot pie with meringue. Bake approximately 8 minutes at 350 degrees until the meringue is golden.