I never plan ahead with my desserts unless it's a special occasion. So, the old-fashioned fruit crisp has become my go-to last-minute special and a family favorite—chopped up during dinner preparations and put in the oven before we sit down to eat.
I hesitate to even write a blog about such a simple recipe, but I find that I enjoy reminders about the simple things in life, so here's mine!
What's a Crisp?
Fruit crisps are simply fruit at the bottom of a glass pie plate, covered in a crumbly topping that can be as little as three ingredients: flour, butter, brown sugar. Somehow, the way the cooked fruit blends with the browned topping in the oven is just mouthwatering. There are few desserts that I enjoy more.
You don't use piecrusts. A crisp is mostly fruit. And you can make it even healthier by making the topping with whole wheat flour, oatmeal, ground nuts, wheat germ, and/or flaxseed meal.
This spring and summer (and fall), try making crisps from any fresh fruit that's seasonal in your area: peaches, pitted cherries, tart apples, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries—or mix some fruit together! (See Related Articles above for several crisp recipes.)
Rhubarb (or, your fruit of choice)
In springtime, I make a rhubarb crisp. Apologies to my Southern friends, as rhubarb is more of a northern fruit, but you use the same recipe for any fruit.
Rhubarb growing in my garden near compost pile.
Rhubarb has a rich, tart flavor. Most people prefer it sweetened with strawberries or berries, but I crave the true, all-out unadulterated rhubarb taste. I just LOVE rhubarb! Apparently, early Americans from past centuries ate it straight as well, enjoying evening meals of "supper sauce," bowls of warm stewed rhubarb  served with homemade bread and butter. But I digress. Let's get to the recipe . . .
Four cups of rhubarb chopped into 1-inch pieces and put straight into dish.
Fresh Fruit Crisp Recipe
- 4 cups fresh fruit (peel and core apples)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (whole wheat if desired)
- 1/4 cup oats (if you leave out oats, then make it 1/2 cup flour above)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup salted butter (add 1/2 teaspoon salt if butter is unsalted)
The most basic pantry ingredients for topping. If you wish, substitute whole wheat flour and/or mix in oats, flaxseed meal, wheatgerm, and nuts.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cut up fruit into 1-inch pieces and lay in a 9-inch lightly greased dish. (Use glass, not aluminum.)
- Add other three to four ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine with fingers until crumbly. (Don't overmix!)
- Spread mix over fruit. Bake 30 minutes. Serve!
- If you're using apples or a fruit that turns brown, add lemon juice to the fruit before you spread the topping.
- I tend to sprinkle some extra brown sugar over the fruit before I add the topping, too, if I'm serving this dessert to my child (age 6). He loves rhubarb crisp and enjoys a side scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- As I mentioned, feel free to mix in some wheat germ (or flaxseed meal) for health. You can also mix in a teaspoon of spice such as ground ginger or cinnamon. Make it your own!
The finished crisp, browned and warm out of the oven.
I'd love to hear if you make fruit crisps, any new tips or ideas, and your favorite type of fruit used (so that I can try it myself!).
Catherine, our New Media Editor, joined The Old Farmer's Almanac in 2008. She edits content on both this Web site, Almanac.com, and the companion site to The Old Farmer's Almanac for Kids publication, Almanac4kids.com. She also pens the Almanac Companion enewsletters and keeps up with readers on Facebook , Twitter , and Pinterest !