Harvesting Strawberries and Rhubarb
For those of you headed out to pick your own fresh ingredients, I have a few tips for you on how to pick the perfect strawberries and rhubarb. One may think it’s a no brainer, but after years of picking with my young kids, I’ve learned there are many ways not to pick fruits and vegetables! Let’s start off on the right foot and ensure we’re harvesting in a way that is beneficial to both the plants and ourselves.
Let’s start with those yummy strawberries we all adore. When heading out to the patch, the biggest tip I can offer is not to be too quick. Make sure you’re looking beneath the leaves for the most beautiful and hearty rosy-red berries. My kids always dart ahead to the "biggest and best" within eye-shot, and so many amazing berries lay right before them tucked under the leaves. I always follow behind, ensuring we are picking the plant well.
Another tip is to make sure you’re choosing ripe berries. While we all have preferences – some of us liking an under-ripe berry, others overripe, and some "just right" – there are benefits to picking the berries at their peak. Picking an under-ripe berry, one that still has a little white/green, can cause you to rip the entire stem off that side of the plant, along with other ripening buds. This is not good for the plant.
On the other end of the spectrum, choosing an overripe berry will leave it mushy in your container when surrounded by other berries, and they will mold much quicker. They also bruise more easily; even the slightest touch can cause them to become smashed.
Rhubarb is much easier to pick, with long stems and giant leaves. You first want to ensure the stalks reach at least 10 inches. To ensure you’re leaving enough of the plant to continue thriving, always leave at least one third of the stalks on the plant when you pick. You can either cut the stalks from the plant near the base, or gently pull the stalks by leaning them to one side until they breaks off. The latter is my favorite way to harvest! Make sure to cut off and dispose of the rhubarb leaves in a safe manner as they are poisonous and should not be eaten.
Did Someone Say Tea Party?
These strawberry rhubarb tartlets are the perfect centerpieces at your next tea party! Gleaming with red and pink hues, a golden crust, and the right serving size for each person, you can’t go wrong. Think spring, summer, dresses, fun hats, jewelry, tea pots, cups, and – of course – your favorite Plum Deluxe tea. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Try pairing these tartlets with our Afternoon "High Tea" White Tea, which includes two fruit favorites of ours: peach and pear. This tea is lightly caffeinated and features a touch of apricot and splash of beautiful marigold petals. The benefit of a white tea when pairing with fruit desserts is that the tea doesn’t overpower the dish. Think light and floral!
The second tea that is a must-try with this recipe is our Peach Bellini Herbal Tea. There is something about this fruity tea that screams, "Take me outdoors and sip me in the summer sun!" which is a perfect match for our tartlets and their summer flavors. This tea includes loads of strawberry, mango, papaya, apricot, pineapple, and peach fruit pieces. Remember, herbal teas are caffeine free, so no need to worry about hitting hyper speed if you’re looking for that perfect cup to unwind with friends and laughter in the warmth of the summer sun.
Strawberry Rhubarb Tartlet Recipe
- 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups diced rhubarb
- 2 cups strawberries, hulled
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.
Add the cold butter and mix until the butter pieces are pea size.
Add the egg yolk, heavy cream, and extracts. Mix just until the dough comes together.
Gather the dough with your hands and shape into a ball, thoroughly mixing in any crumbs remaining in the bowl.
Divide into six separate balls.
Using your fingers, press each dough ball into the bottom and sides of a 5-inch mini tart pan.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Remove plastic wrap and bake at 375° for 15-18 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, make the strawberry compote:
Combine strawberries, rhubarb, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar into a large saucepan and cook on medium low heat.
Stir and mash as the fruit starts to soften and cook for 10-12 minutes.
Remove from heat
To make the filling:
In a small bowl, mix together lemon juice and cornstarch until smooth.
Add mixture to a medium saucepan, and stir in strawberry rhubarb compote, remaining sugar, and egg yolks.
Heat mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, then butter.
Mix until completely smooth.
Pour filling into prepared and cooled tart shells, cover, and chill completely before serving, at least four hours.
Top with fresh, sliced strawberries, whipped cream, or whatever makes your heart happy!
Tartlets will keep for several days in the fridge in an airtight container.