Rhubarb Berry Crumble

Stealing the first bite from the corner

Well! It’s been a little while since I did an actual recipe type food post, hasn’t it?  I thought it was about time to remedy that :)

Rhubarb season is here! Yay!

my rhubarb is surrounded by buttercups - it still manages to peak out

Rhubarb has always been one of my favourite baking fruits but, as I’ve gotten older, I like it even more.  While I still definitely have a sweet tooth, I can’t gulp sugar down endlessly like I could as a kid.  A little tart zing is refreshing and welcome.

Rhubarb is usually the first item to be harvested out of my garden every year.  I don’t think I’ve ever actually purchased the stuff.  If you live on the west coast of Canada, this is something you should have in your back garden.  It’s effortless to grow, reappears every year like clock work, doesn’t need weeding or watering or even a whisper of encouragement.  And, if you’re not careful, it can spread like a weed.

straight from the garden

It’s also easy to freeze if you grow more of it than you can use up while it’s in season.  Chop it up (remember, the leaves are toxic so get rid of them first!), pop it in a freezer bag and it’s ready to add to muffins, crumbles, sauces, pies, whatever you can think of.

This isn’t an original crumble idea but it is easily my favourite and so easy to make.  And I’m so pleased because the strawberries were u-picked last year from a local farm, the blueberries were from a huge flat I purchased from another local farm last summer and the rhubarb is mine!

the fruit all ready, pre-crumble

Oh and as an aside, do you want to hear about the glamorous world of food photography in a little home kitchen?  Of course you do!!

The photo at the top almost didn’t happen.  After a weekend of watching Penny De Los Santos on Creative Live with her team of stylists to help her out, (the woman is brilliant, by the way) this is how I did it in my kitchen:

Imagine me, perched on a dining room chair, the tray with the crumble on it sitting dangerously on the edge of the table, close to the window, my foot on the dining room table, balancing my reflector against my knee while looking down on the whole scene with my camera to my eye… the reflector slipped, slid down, hit the tray with the crumble on it, pushing it off the table and I have no idea how I managed to move this fast but I leapt down, grabbed the tray and crumble just before it crashed to the floor.

Everyone and everything remained intact!

Rhubarb Berry Crumble
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6
  • 3 cups of chopped rhubarb (minus the toxic leaves)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup quick cooking or regular oats
  • ⅓ cup stick butter
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp ground nutmeg
  1. preheat oven to 375F
  2. grease the sides and bottom of a 8x8x2 pan
  3. spread rhubarb and berries evenly in the pan
  4. mix the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl until they resemble coarse crumbs (I find using my fingers works best)
  5. bake for 30 minutes or until topping is golden and fruit is bubbling


Food Photography Tips

All these images were taken with my new Canon 5D MKll and 100mm macro lens.  The only post processing I did was in LR and consisted of small changes to contrast, sharpening and a tiny bit of split toning on the image of the cut up fruit.

Image 1: f5.6, 100mm, 1/125, ISO 4000, exposure compensation +1/3

The new 100mm lens is taking a lot of getting used to and I’m still not happy with any of the photos I’ve taken with it.  No fault of the lens, just the person operating it.  I’m finding it hard to get my DOF and focus right.  I still feel that I was too shallow here.  I had two photographs of this scene – the other was a much tighter shot, which composition wise, I preferred much more.  However, my Depth of Field was way too shallow and the crumble itself was out of focus.  More practice is in order!

Image 2: f4.5, 100mm, 1/50, ISO 400, exposure compensation -2/3

Again, the macro lens. I don’t seem to be able to nail the focus.  And it lets in so much light it’s crazy.  That’s probably also a result of having a full frame sensor now as opposed to a small frame.  So I stepped this down a couple of notches (lowered the exposure).

Image 3: f4.5, 100mm, 1/320, ISO400, exposure compensation -2/3

Getting better.  Still think the focus could have been sharper but I’m happy with the DOF and the composition.  This is a slightly different setup for me and it’s so nice to be able to use the great outdoors as a studio again!

Image 4: f4.5, 100mm, 1/60, ISO1000, exposure compensation +1/3

Still with the focus! But otherwise, I’m relatively happy with the composition and the colours.  This new camera really seems to saturate the colour, which I personally love.


  1. says

    Good to know I wasn’t the only one to almost take a header off the table thanks to Penny! Well, you might not think highly of the person behind the lens, but I think that first picture is terrific. And kudos to you for sneaking the corner bite but having the discipline to pose it before gobbling it up!

    • Melissa says

      thanks Ethan! that corner bite was my reward for rescuing the crumble! who knew we were all such daredevils!

  2. says

    This goes along with me begging my husband to hold up a huge piece of white poster board today as I perched myself on a kitchen stool trying to set up my white sheet in front of the kitchen window for some diffusion… all while the pugs started and probably were silently laughing. :-) Good luck with the new lens, can’t wait to see more of what you can do with it!

    • Melissa says

      Thanks Kimmy! My dog likes sitting on the reflector. it’s his form of protest I think – he’s not a fan of the camera. If I could train him to hold the reflector, that would be something!

  3. says

    That made me laugh out loud… I am just seeing your brilliant ninja act right there! The pictures are stunning… so much colour and prettiness! I have never been a huge fan of rhubarb, but now I definitely have to go and make something with it.

    How did you freeze the blueberries without clumping them toghether?

    • Melissa says

      do you have a good chutney recipe that you can swap different fruits in and out of? Because I’ve often thought rhubarb would work well in a chutney. I’ve never found a recipe I thought would work. Might be an interesting way to try it.

      Blueberries: I rinse them, pat them dry on paper towel and then lay them out in an even layer on a wax paper covered baking sheet and put the baking sheets in the freezer for a few hours. Once they’ve frozen, I pour them into either a big freezer bag for things like smoothies or sprinkling on a dessert. Or I measure out a cup at a time and freeze them in little bags – that makes them perfect for muffin recipes and such. They’re premeasured and you can just dump them straight in to the batter! It works well with most berries actually.

      • says

        Ah, thanks Melissa. I’ve never tried freezing berries before, but I have a stack of strawberries that I want to freeze. I did freeze cherries, but they were all in one clump, so I ended up making all these pies and freezing them in the end.

        I don’t have a rhubarb chutney recipe, but I have had a rhubarb and rosepetal jam once which was absolutely brilliant… but now that you’ve said it, I am off to hunt for a chutney recipe. My MIL has some great ones, should ask her.

        • says

          Gotta remember I came from the UK, which meant the teeniest freezer ever… I am slightly shocked at all the freezer space I have here, and haven’t made full use of it yet :-) This is my summer for freezing for sure.

          • Melissa says

            ah yes. My little London flat had a half fridge with a shoebox big enough for an icecube tray as a freezer. And a stove with only two burners and an oven that could not accommodate a full sized cookie sheet! I am well aware! lol.

            I have a big deep freeze in my basement for things like mass quantities of fruits and veggies. does cut down the grocery bill in winter.

  4. says

    Oh no! That could have been disastrous. I know what you mean though…I’ve been in some fairly “Twister” worthy positions lately trying to get a shot. Gorgeous photos though! I love the one of the cut rhubarb, which, by the way, I still have never tried. I’ve been seeing so many rhubarb posts and it’s really piqued my interest. I’ve got to get my hands on some.

    • Melissa says

      thanks Karen! It’s rhubarb season and it’s short so I think everyone is trying to jam in as many rhubarb recipes as possible. I have another one waiting :)

  5. says

    I want to dig in! That is one yummylicious crumble! I am going to be the last kid on the block that will get her hands on rhubarb – 3 farmer markets later and I still can’t find any…damn midwest!

  6. says

    My husband polished off the rhubarb crisp I made the other day. We moved from the Midwest to SoCal and were SHOCKED at how expensive rhubarb is here! We buy it as a special treat while my mom emails me telling me how she’s up to her ears in the stuff and had to pawn some off on the neighbors. Sigh.

    Hah, I had a similar reaction to Penny’s amazing workshop, except it had me trying to arrange a cutting board (no crusty trays available) full of ingredients perched on a step stool yesterday. We’re trying! The colors are just beautiful in your photos.

    • Melissa says

      Thanks Stacy :)
      I’m surprised it’s so expensive in California – I suppose it’s too warm and dry for it to grow as easily.

      • says

        Yeah, I think it has to have a definitive “cold” and “warm” (like apples). I intercepted an email that my mother sent my husband promising to save him some rhubarb when we’re in town in a few weeks. None promised to me! Hmph.

  7. says

    I’m a big fan of rhubarb so a great recipe to add to the list. I’ll look forward to making this in the autumn – I freeze a lot of rhubarb.
    Your blog is great – really love the way you add your photography tips – great advice for newbies 😉

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