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Dec 15, 2011 09:46 AM

Rhubarb or Gooseberry Pie

I’m in search of a good, tart rhubarb or gooseberry pie, with emphasis on the word “tart.” My problem with most pies is that they are cloyingly sweet, but this problem is magnified when the fruit or vegetable in the pie is inherently tart. Most often, the objective seems to be to hide this tartness by overpowering it with sugar. Some sweetness is necessary and desirable, of course, and I understand that it’s a matter of balance, but I personally want the natural tartness to be there, not hidden. So, does anyone know a bakery that makes a 100% rhubarb (not strawberry-rhubarb) or a gooseberry pie that will make me happy? (Yes, I know, if I'm so fussy I could make my own pies, but that's not my question.)

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  1. Sorry, Tom. The last time I saw a really good one (meeting your standards and mine) was at American Pie in the Pike Place Market. That was 20+ years ago.

    I've seen some sweet ones, but have forgotten where and I don't care.

    I think you'd do better in England. They like their fruits tart and do very nice puff pastry (sometimes). Gooseberries are much more popular there than in Seattle.

    3 Replies
    1. re: RandyB

      Yes, I know that about the English. There's an English lady at the Port Townsend farmers' market who makes a wonderful Grapefruit-Ginger Marmalade, not oversweetened and with that wonderful bitterness shining through. Yum! And I fondly remember, and sadly miss, American Pie. I'm hoping that maybe, somewhere in the Greater Seattle Area, unknown to me, but known to other Chowhounds, there's someone else rising to that standard.

      1. re: Tom Armitage


        I had a slice of rhubarb pie at Shoofly pie in West Seattle last spring that I found refreshingly tart and delicious. I LOVE rhubarb, and mostly for it's sweet-tart quality;

        Not sure if they are making said flavor this time of year (it's kind of early for winter rhubarb), but you might call and discuss with them what your after, and see if they can help. It's a pretty small and kind operation - they just might be flattered at your interest in a consultation and request for a special out-of-season rhubarb pie for a man with such fine conversational skills as yourself. I imagine if anyone can get what you need from them, it might be you:)

        1. re: gingershelley

          Thanks for the lead. I'll check it out.

    2. Hi, Tom:

      When you find the place to bake your pies, bring them some of Lenning Farms' berries (they grow both rasps and gooseberries). Skagit Valley's best berries, for three generations now.

      About the tartness/sweetness conundrum, might I suggest that you try (blindfolded if necessary) *golden* raspberries in your pie(s)? I find them more naturally sweet, and more flavorful.


      Edit: Sorry, I saw rhubarb and thought raspberry. Todd & Bev Lenning also grow fantastic rhubarb and lingonberries.

      4 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu

        I was able to find some excellent gooseberries in the Methow Valley, where I live now. Unfortunately, no one grows them in quantity. The one time I saw them at a farmers' market, it was $6 for a half pie's worth, at best. My friends who farm have only a token bush or two.

        They can be grown is Seattle. I had a few producing bushes when I lived in Ravenna years ago.

        Still, I also hope someone will come up with a great gooseberry pie place.

        1. re: RandyB

          You're right about the lack of gooseberries in commercial quantities, Randy, and this will probably mean that I'll start growing my own. Deer Mountain used to make an excellent gooseberry jam (again, not too sweet), but it's no longer available. I contracted the folks at Deer Mountain and they said that they simply can't get gooseberries in sufficient quantity to make continued production of their jam feasible. They are looking for a source of gooseberries, but haven't found one yet. Que lastima!

          I saw a gooseberry pie a while back at Metropolitan Market, but it was too sweet for my taste. I haven't seen it there lately.

          1. re: Tom Armitage

            I used to get Deer Mtn gooseberry jam, too.

            I should look around here in Paris for some mackerel current (gooseberry in French) jam. I can't remember seeing them in pastries, however. And there's no certainty they will be tart, either.

            1. re: RandyB

              Ikea has Swedish gooseberry jam in stock right now, for $3.99 a jar, I think. But no Arctic Cloudberry jam :-(

      2. Hi Tom,

        This isn't a pie, but perhaps it may be helpful. A farm and online store in Burlington that grows gooseberries.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jimisi

          Thanks. Looks like an interesting resource for lots of things, not just gooseberries. I'm glad to have learned about them.