Pickled Rhubarb

May 23, 2024

Rhubarb season happens to be right now, a sure sign that spring is in full effect. 

When I was little, rhubarb grew wild in the backyard of our house in Norway, and many people considered it a weed. To me, it was exciting to see things just pop out of the ground seemingly out of nowhere. 

I have fond memories of my mom giving me a cup of sugar in the kitchen and I proceeded to run behind our stabbur (a traditional, wooden storehouse used to store food, clothing, and other items on farms in rural Norway – see below photo of an example of a stabbur) where the rhubarb plants were.

I picked a bright, red stalk, dipped it in sugar, and munched away on it. The sugar’s sweet crunchiness was a welcome contrast to the sour rhubarb, and the combination was heaven. It was like a forbidden treat in the middle of the week, my special secret, as I was only allowed to eat sweets once a week, on Saturday night. 

You may have heard people say that rhubarb is poisonous, but only the leaves are, so if you find them in the wild, be sure to pick off the leaves and use only the stalks. 

When I saw rhubarb at my local market the other day I just had to pick a few stalks as the season for rhubarb is here and over with before you know it. I typically will make a cake and mix it with strawberries, such as this rabarbrakake recipe I shared before (it’s wonderful, highly recommended!) but this time I felt like making something that will last a little longer. 

Rhubarb is fantastic in cocktails like sangria, margaritas and highball drinks. In addition to pickling rhubarb, I love to reducing rhubarb down in a sugar and vinegar mixture to make a thick syrup to pour over ice cream. 

What can you do with pickled rhubarb? 

I love to serve it as a condiment on a cheese platter. The sweet-tart pickled rhubarb is a wonderful addition to the creaminess of cheese and a great palate cleanser too. 

Serve the pickled rhubarb as a side with your barbecue food, as it helps lift all the flavors and tastes really refreshing against the heavier, richer foods. Spread it on a sandwich like relish or top on your grain salad. 

Top it on yogurt, ice cream or your oatmeal for an extra delicious touch or throw it into a smoothie for a tangy, slightly savory touch. The options are endless!

How to pickle rhubarb

Essentially, you will follow the traditional pickling juice recipe of 1:1:1, which is 1 part sugar, 1 part vinegar, and 1 part water. You can use any type of vinegar you’d like. 

I’ve experimented with both red wine vinegar and white balsamic vinegar, which both work, but this time, I wanted to try balsamic vinegar. I thought it sounded great, and I discovered I had an inexplicable number of bottles in my cabinet (go figure!).

Balsamic vinegar has a richness and slight sweetness that matches really well with the tartness of the rhubarb, bringing out a wonderful, complex flavor. 

Experiment with whatever spices you have at home. I chose to add cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, cardamom pods, star anise, pink peppercorns and fresh ginger. You can also use mustard seeds, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, allspice and even some lemon or orange peel would be good. 

Condiments like pickled rhubarb are surprisingly rewarding additions to your table and to your food—I hope you’ll try this recipe out! 

Pickled Rhubarb

Makes 2 mason jars

1 lb (1/2 kilo) rhubarb, washed and trimmed 
1 cup (2.5 dl) balsamic vinegar
1 cup (2.5 dl) water
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
2 cinnamon sticks, divided
6 whole cloves, divided
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns, divided
2 green cardamom pods, divided
4 thin slices fresh ginger, divided
2 star anise, divided

Directions

Thoroughly wash, rinse and dry 2 mason jars and set aside. 

Slice the rhubarb into ¼ inch slices and add and divide the fruit evenly between the two mason jars. Add half of the cloves, pink peppercorn, ginger and star anise to each jar. 

Bring the balsamic vinegar, water, and sugar to a boil in a medium sauce pot, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and cool the mixture slightly before pouring the liquid evenly into each of the mason jars.

Let cool with lid off in the refrigerator before sealing. Keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks. 

Pickled Rhubarb

Pickling rhubarb in rich balsamic vinegar and a mixture of spices makes this the most flavorful and amazing condiment to barbecue foods as well as spreads on sandwiches, toppings on salads, and more!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 mason jars

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (1/2 kilo) rhubarb washed and trimmed
  • 1 cup (2.5 dl) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup (2.5 dl) water
  • 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks divided
  • 6 whole cloves divided
  • 1 teaspoon pink peppercorn divided
  • 2 green cardamom pods divided
  • 4 thin slices fresh ginger divided
  • 2 star anise divided

Instructions

  • Thoroughly wash, rinse and dry 2 mason jars and set aside.
  • Slice the rhubarb into ¼ inch slices and add and divide the fruit evenly between the two mason jars. Add half of the cloves, pink peppercorn, ginger and star anise to each jar.
  • Bring the balsamic vinegar, water, and sugar to a boil in a medium sauce pot, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and cool the mixture slightly before pouring the liquid evenly into each of the mason jars. Let cool with lid off in the refrigerator before sealing. Keeps in refrigerator for several weeks.

2 Comments

  1. Marti

    What size mason jars? I’m guessing quart? Or is it pint?
    Why cool before sealing? If boiling liquid is poured over the veg and spices couldn’t you place the lids and seal them to last longer? Or will the vinegar become explosive?

    Reply
    • Sunny Gandara

      Hi there, yes I use quart size mason jars. This is a recipe for quick pickling and are not made for lasting for months like canned fruits and veg, rather weeks. I cool the liquid personally before sealing because I prefer the flavor (more vibrant/fresh). If you want you can close it, the vinegar will not explode 🙂

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Pin It on Pinterest