Rhubarb Pickles: Fresh Chips Off the Old Stalk

Rhubarb Pickles: Fresh Chips Off the Old Stalk

Rhubarb Pickles for a change of pacenew condiment favoriteRhubarb pickle chips: easy to make, easy to eat.

Last Saturday, the third of July, I was enjoying a salad prepared by my friend Chris. I munched. I chewed. I loved. His fresh homegrown garden greens heralded summer with each bite. Then, like a little sparkler tucked away in the mix, a blast of flavor took me by surprise. “Chris, what the heck is that wonderful sweet, sour, crunchy thing in the salad.” He answered, “pickled rhubarb, Tom.”

Now I’ve been around the rhubarb block a time or two, and I’ve never had the tart stalk pickled. If I may channel my inner-thirtysomething voice, “It was flippin awesome!” Even before sopping up the last slick of vinaigrette on my plate, I knew I had to make this crispy condiment sooner than later. Chris assured me the rhubarb pickles recipe was beyond simple, and Chris is a man of his word.

rhubarb stalks

My rhubarb is still going gangbusters, thanks (I think) to a cooler-than-normal summer.

Jar of rhubarb pickles

Super Simple RECIPE: Rhubarb Pickles

UPDATE July 11, 2011:  I wouldn’t bother canning these as they turn slimy. Instead eat them when fresh and in season. If you want to keep them crisp like a pickle, keep them fresh in a lidded jar in the fridge. They’ll keep a good long time.

Makes about 6 half pints

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 pounds of rhubarb
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of salt

Preparation

  1. Clean rhubarb
  2. Slice on the diagonal into chips (about the thickness of saltine cracker)
  3. Place in non-reactive bowl (glass, pottery, stainless)
  4. Add sugar, and stir to coat all pieces
  5. Cover and let stand room temp for a couple hours
  6. Add vinegar and stir until sugar is dissolved
  7. Keep in the fridge
  8. Save any extra liquid to use in salad dressings

Variations:

  • Add herbs and/or spices you like for a twist
    • peppercorns for a little heat
    • whole cloves
    • fresh ginger (I added candied ginger)
    • allspice berries
    • mustard seeds
    • bay leaf
  • If you add herbs or spices, I’d drain the liquid into a pan, heat and steep the liquid for a few minutes, then letting it cool to room temperature before adding to jars.

rhubarb pickles ready for the fridgeRhubarb has a small fan club from what I can gather. As an acquired taste, most folks prefer it teamed up with custard or strawberries or some other flavor-diluting component to help ratchet down its strong personality. I understand, so believe me when I say, this pickle will make you a recipe card carrying rhubarb devotee.



37 thoughts on “Rhubarb Pickles: Fresh Chips Off the Old Stalk”

  • I wish I had an abundance of this great garden crop. I would be making these pickles right now. Never heard of anything like it, but you certainly have given it a 5* rating!!

  • I’ve been waiting for you to say something about canning! I thought I’d try it this year and then I bought some jars, and a book — which scared the fool out of me. If you do one thing one (!) wrong, apparently, you will die from botulism. Any advice?

  • I have rhubarb sitting in my fridge. Thought I might make it into rhubarb salsa, which was surprisingly popular last time I took it to the Farmer’s Market. I don’t know why I was surprised. They love their rhubarb in these parts. I will pickle some for salads. Sounds delicious.

  • I don’t know if I want to come over and eat your rhubard pickles or just drink a tall glass of wine and find out what’s going on in your life. Miss you in the city. XoXo to you and Boz and Gracie.
    Hope to visit you on the isle soon Tommie.

  • hey, can me and rinny buy some rhubarb off of you…? and then come over to the city and follow the recipe for us? We’re city eejits…..but we love a good mouth full of rhubarb 😉

  • I love all the great tips you shared! thank you for sharing over here at Cottage Flora Thursday’s Garden Party! i scrolled down to see your gorgeous home all deck’ed out for the 4th – it’s beautiful!!!!! oxox, tracie

  • While I’m not much of a pickled girl 😉 , these do look very pretty. Will share with my friends who love all things pickled and rhubarb! Thanks, Tom. 🙂

    Shirley

  • Tom,
    What a great and simple recipe. I love rhubarb but for some reason we don’t use it much at home. I think we’ve only cooked with it in pies. The other day I saw a recipe for a drink named sundowner which is a mix of Lillet, rhubarb, straweberry, sugar and fizzy water. I think I will have to get a double batch of rhubarb at my farmer’s market this weekend. Some many new rhubarb recipes to try..
    Cheers,
    Heguiberto

  • OK, this is the recipe that is going to get me to find some and make it! It would be a nice change from pickled turnips or the pickled watermelon rind you find in these parts. Don’t you need to heat up the sugar a bit with the vinegar to dissolve it?

  • Joumana, I didn’t heat up the vinegar to dissolve it, but I would if I was going to add some spices, so as to infuse their flavor with greater intensity.

  • Heidi, pickles are a high acid product so they are about the safest thing you can make and can. Maybe give this recipe a try and just keep it in the fridge for starters. It will last a long time chilled.

  • I have a deep fear of rhubarb, for some it’s clowns or things that go bump in the night. There’s no rational explanation, no one in my family or tribe has ever been harmed by rhubarb, yet it simply gives me the willies.

  • Yummo, don’t the jars look beautiful. I love it, but just don’t use it much, not sure why, cause it tastes bloody amazing. 🙂 Any leftovers? Feel free to send em my way. Lol!

  • Tom – I pine for the rhubarb of my Michigan youth, it doesn’t grow here in TX. Some hints to your fan club. Pick early while stalks are young and pink. It gets bitter as it matures. The leaves are somewhat toxic but not the stalks, don’t worry. My Mom used to make a fantastic strawbery rhubarb pie and would freeze this filling for our winter ice cream treats.

  • UPDATE, the pickles when canned become mushy. They are still really good, and fine for topping on chicken or fish, or treating like a chutney.

    I was mistaken, the rhubarb pickles I ate earlier at my friend’s house were fresh, not canned. Canning will make them saucy soft, and eating them fresh from the fridge keeps them crisipy. Very sorry about my jumping the gun on suggesting canning them.

  • This sounds really tasty, Tom! I’ve never heard of this either. Thanks for sharing. I’m surprised that you don’t cut the vinegar with some water. Are they on the high end of tartness?

  • Thomas, oddly, they’re not that tart and just right in the ratio of sweet and sour. Really great in a salad or cole slaw.

    I’m just making them fresh and keeping them in the fridge and my canning of the pickles turned them into a delicious soft chutney. 😉

  • Tom, just saw your comment to my Raw Cheese Post. THAT’S SO CRAZY! I’m reading that book as we speak. Almost finished with it. Very well written.

  • Tom – thanks for sharing the idea of pickles. Need to go get some from my favorite supplier now (Lay Bug Mountain Farm). Since they are pickles straight in vinegar, no need to can indeed. But if you wanted to can again, grape leaves used to be suggested to add to cukes to keep them crisp. Oak leaves too, but grape leaves have the bonus of being edible so you can use them for dolmas… never tried it, so don’t know if it works, but with so much rhubarb, you don’t have much to loose trying…

  • Sylvie, wow, never heard of that option, but I’ll look into it, sounds promising. Thanks, hope you’re staying cool in a very warm Virginia.

  • Yep brion, they are indeed brined like crazy. You hot water bath the pickles so they are subject to a little heat, but not “cooked” per se.

  • My Mom would “stew” the rhubarb before freezing or canning. Perhaps the rhubarb could be pickled like sweet gerkins? Opening up a whole new product line for you. Conway’s Crunchy Rhubarb Cukes.

  • Tom, thanks for the ideas. you could try alum in the canning of the rhubarb pickles. Alum is used in some pickle recipes to keep them crisp. You can find it in the spice section in the supermarket.

  • I did some Swiss Chard stem pickles the other day. It was amazing. These were refrigerator pickles. I am thinking to can some jars. Thinking your recipe could work with swiss chard stems,..cut in smaller pieces (?).

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