Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp


Strawberries and rhubarb

An early spring dessert

Baked strawberry rhubarb crisp

“On a spring morning when with late-surviving dew the young grass bristled under the sun, when the warmth crept into the ground and pushed yellow dandelions up, Cathy’s mother finished hanging the washed clothes on the line.”

East of Eden, John Steinbeck


A crisp is a fine dessert. It could also be called a crumble. It is an enticing excuse to enjoy seasonal fruit and easy to prepare. Any seasonal fruit can be substituted in this recipe, peaches, plums, apricots, berries and in the fall apples. Rhubarb and the first strawberries are both in season now and perfect for this satisfying sweet taste of spring.

Fresh strawberries and rhubarb

In the United States rhubarb is a vegetable that we know as a fruit. In 1947 a New York court affirmed that rhubarb would now be a fruit and to this day rhubarb is known as a fruit. Why a court decision? Taxes, tariffs and regulations on the differences in importing fruits and vegetables. Rhubarb is quite tangy and if the stalks are thick can be very fibrous. My mom would stew rhubarb with lots of sugar and then pour the sweet sauce over ice cream. This was not my favorite dessert. At all. I prefer my rhubarb paired with naturally sweet strawberries as in this crisp. It is not an overly sweet dessert. There is just enough sugar to offset the tangy tartness of the rhubarb while the early spring voices of the rhubarb and strawberries can still be heard. The crumbly crisp topping hovers above the chunks of early spring fruit just waiting to be scooped up with a touch of sweet cream or vanilla ice cream.

Peeling rhubarb


There are differing methods for prepping the rhubarb. The two considerations are the fibrous exterior and the high water content. When the rhubarb stalks are large and thick I prefer to peel the stalks to remove the stringy fibrous strands. Many recipes do not call for peeling, the choice is yours. Depending on the rhubarb variety, you may peel away a lot of the irresistible pink exterior. A pale spring green, tinged with pink may remain. The freshly harvested rhubarb I purchased at The Farm was a soft crimson pink underneath the fibrous outside! I also found my sweet organic strawberries at The Farm. I’m hooked on their strawberries. They have so much more flavor than the berries at the supermarket.

Preparing strawberries and rhubarb

Rhubarb contains a lot of water which is a consideration in baking. Sugar is almost always mixed in with the rhubarb since is very tangy. And sugar is hydroscopic, it draws the water from the rhubarb. This is why your baked product will have rhubarb chunks floating in rhubarb juice or be overly moist and juicy. Either a thickener such as flour, cornstarch or tapioca can be mixed in with the rhubarb and sugar or some of the moisture can be removed before baking. For the crisp recipe I chose to remove some of the water before baking by macerating the rhubarb in brown sugar and draining off the liquid. I prefer brown sugar mixed with the fruit, but white sugar can be used.

This recipe is very flexible. Exact measurements are not needed. I did not weigh the ingredients. Measuring cup amounts will be precise enough to obtain outstanding results.

4 C rhubarb
4 C strawberries
1 C brown sugar
Crisp Topping
1 C A/P flour
1/2 C almond meal
1/2 C brown sugar
1 C oatmeal
1/4 t salt
1 C butter
1/2 C sliced almonds, optional
Whipped cream or ice cream and toasted almonds

Bowl of baked strawberry rhubarb crisp

  1. Prepare the rhubarb. Cut off any leaves and discard. Thoroughly wash the stalks. If the stalks are thick peel them by grasping just the red outer stringy, fibrous membrane and pull in a downward motion. Discard the fibrous membrane. Cut the rhubarb in 1 inch chunks and toss with 1/2 C of the brown sugar. Place the sugar rhubarb mixture in a sieve or colander over a bowl. Let drain for at least one hour.
  2. Meanwhile wash and clean the strawberries and cut in half. If the berries are large cut in quarters. Toss with the remaining 1/2 C brown sugar in another bowl. Set aside to macerate.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  4. Prepare the topping. Combine flours, brown sugar, oatmeal and salt in a bowl. Cut the butter into chucks and work into the dry ingredients with either a pastry cutter or your hands. Continue working the butter into the flour until the largest pieces are the size of peas.
  5. Toss the drained rhubarb with the strawberries. Spread the fruit evenly in the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Scrape the bowl clean, adding any sugar and berry liquid to the baking pan. Spread the topping mixture, on top of the fruit and bake for 35-40 minutes until the fruit is cooked and bubbling and the topping has browned. Best served while warm. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
Entrance to The Farm

Entrance to The Farm, Spreckels, California

Fresh organic strawberries

Fresh organic strawberries

Rhubarb and roses, at The Farm

Rhubarb and roses, at The Farm

Organic strawberry fields

Organic strawberry fields

Looking North at The Farm

Looking North at The Farm

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23 Responses to Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

  1. Carol Sacks says:

    Nothing says “spring” like this post, Deb. Terrific!

  2. claire says:

    Oh lots to talk about today Deb. I didn’t know a crisp was a crumble, I loved your photos – the peelings are beautiful (how clever!), and of course I was fascinated by how they grow the strawberries on the farm 🙂 I’ve never had a rhubarb strawberry crumble, I keep seeing this combination together on blogs, and it’s new to me. I have about a month to wait for the first strawberries…… but I do have stewed rhubarb with some greek yoghurt for breakfast 🙂 Hope you have a super week Deb

    • Deb says:

      Thanks Claire! I am very fond of the strawberry rhubarb pairing. Looking forward to seeing your strawberry harvest.

  3. Gretchen says:

    I come from a family of rhubarb lovers. I shall be passing this post on to them. Beautiful photography, as always, Deb!

    • Deb says:

      Thanks for the lovely comment Gretchen, much appreciated! If you try the recipe please let me know your thoughts.

  4. Mindy Leliaert says:

    This looks absolutely delicious. Mark and I love rhubarb. I will have to make a trip out to the Farm to pick some up. I just planted a rhubarb plant last week. It will take a couple years to establish itself. I have never used Almond meal. Any recommendations as to where I should pick some up? Love your photos!

    • Deb says:

      I am so glad you enjoyed the post! When I was picking up strawberries at The Farm I asked about purchasing rhubarb from the plants growing outside as they were not selling any that day. I pleaded a bit, as I so wanted the stalks with the leaves attached to photograph. The obsessions of blogging! I am certain they will have beautiful, fresh picked organic strawberries but am not sure about rhubarb. In Salinas Nob Hill, Save On and Star Market carry Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal. I am not familiar with Safeway.

      • Mindy Leliaert says:

        Oh, okay. I may have to scout around for my rhubarb. Thanks for the tips.

        • Deb says:

          I found rhubarb at Nob Hill and Star Market. Whole Foods in Monterey also stocks it. Guess you can tell I’ve tested the recipe a few times! 🙂

  5. Yum, Deb! Very sweet looking and seasonally fresh too. A beautifully enticing spring treat.

    • Deb says:

      I am so happy spring is here! I have switched to wearing sandals and couldn’t be more pleased. So glad you enjoyed my post Viviane!

  6. Geni says:

    Hi Deb, apparently we are almost “neighbors”, although I am in So. Cal. This rhubarb crisp looks delectable, so bright and cheerful and I so want to dig right in. I truly appreciate the in-depth details you gave us for handling rhubarb. I have never cooked with rhubarb and would not have had the slightest idea how to begin cooking with it. By giving us all the info., you are helping to guarantee our success. 🙂 If I see some rhubarb at the farmer’s market, I am definitely grabbing some.

  7. Hi Deb,

    Thanks for dropping by Tutti Dolci & your sweet comment. Your strawberry rhubarb crisp sounds lovely – I must peek around at your other creations!

    Fun to discover that you are in/near Salinas – that’s where I grew up (went to Salinas High) and I still have some family there.

    • Deb says:

      What a small world! I’ve lived in the Salinas area since grade school. Although we lived in Prunedale, I went to Alisal High whereas my brothers all attended Salinas High. I very much enjoy your sweet blog!

  8. Hannah says:

    Hi! I grew up with a rhubarb patch and my mom made pie after pie with it. I didn’t discover pairing it with strawberries til I was a bit older and now it’s a favorite. Your crisp is making me so hungry now and your photos are stunning!

    • Deb says:

      Oh I very much enjoy pairing strawberries with rhubarb! Very much a spring thing! Thanks for the lovely praise.

  9. Roxane says:

    My friend Mindy suggested I check out your website- absolutely loved the photos,
    recipes, historical & current information. I made the strawberry rhubarb crisp for my quilt group gathering. Everyone loved the desert and I can see that it will be one of my favorite crisp recipes. I am now researching where I can get a rhubarb plant of my own .
    Thank you for your effort.

    • Deb says:

      I am so glad you enjoyed my recipe and took the time to share your experience with me. Thank you for your lovely praise!

  10. Foodiewife says:

    It’s funny to see “my” local farm stand on your blog! I love this place. I’ve blogged many a recipe with their local strawberries. I don’t use “the best” often, but their sweet and juicy organic strawberries are something I love dearly. I made a strawberry rhubarb pie (yet to blog it) just before I left on vacation. The guy was nice enough to yank out some fresh rhubarb for me– what service! Before I left, on vacation, I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie filling and canned it. Guess what I’m making today? Bahahahaha! I always enjoy your photos, since we share the same hometown.

    • Deb says:

      I agree, The Farm’s organic strawberries are the best! I really do appreciate having local organic produce nearby.

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