Perennial recipes

Perennial recipe: Apple rhubarb pie

What’s even better than opening the Fall pie season?

Opening the Fall pie season with a pie made with perennial foods.

Unless you’re a gardener, you probably don’t think of foods in terms of annuals vs. perennials. And “eat more perennials” rarely makes it to the Top 10 Things You Can Do To Slow Down Climate Change kinds of lists.

But incorporating more perennial foods — foods derived from perennial plants — into your diet is actually one big, delicious climate-friendly kitchen hack.

A perennial plant is any plant that grows and produces for more than one season. Think of an apple tree or a hazelnut bush. Annual plants (like wheat, soy, or annual vegetables) require tilling, re-planting, irrigating, fertilizing and harvesting each new season, all of which disturbs the soil and its carbon storage capability. Perennials, in contrast, are low-maintenance and low-impact. Because they don’t need to be tilled, they help to foster healthy soil. The slow and steady decomposition of their leaves and roots gradually adds more and more organic matter to the soil. All of those roots pushing down into the ground and branches reaching towards the sky, growing year after year, are helping to capture and lock down carbon that would otherwise stay in our atmosphere.

Perennials = more roots in the ground + less disturbance of soil = more carbon stored in the ground = climate-beneficial

Annuals = less extensive roots + frequent soil disturbance = more carbon released into the atmosphere = climate-destabilizing

So, with this lovely pie, we invite you to just start thinking and noticing more which of the foods you already eat are from perennials, and maybe start incorporating more of them into your cooking. Start with something as irresistible as a pie! Some of our most popular pie fillings in fact come from perennial plants: tree fruit, berries, and the common home garden vegetable, rhubarb. I made this apple rhubarb pie and it was perennial perfection: sweet, tart, with a flaky crust.

Grapes, nuts, asparagus, and artichoke are other great perennial foods that you can try in savory tarts.

And if you want to go all out and go 100% perennial, make your flour perennial too. We’ll talk about perennial grains in an upcoming post, but in the meantime, nut flours are nut-ritious, and increasingly easy to find.

And now… let’s eat!

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