Rhubarb Pickles ’cause you gotta have ’em

Rhubarb Pickles

This jar is already half-eaten. I am now fully addicted so I’m sure it will be empty as I finish this post. I didn’t know what I was going to do with these yet I was absolutely driven to make them after realizing there was more to pickles than cucumbers. My confusion seems like a distant memory now as I just can’t stop eating them…one…by…one…bye one… This pickle binge is still in full force and yet I’m already feeling the tinge of panic as I realize I only made 1 quart of these infatuation inspiring enigmatic parcels of joy. This addiction will certainly propel me back to the the vinegar aisle and kitchen before the week is out. Its a good thing they are terribly easy to make.

As culinary explorations go this one raises quite a few questions: Why the sudden need to ‘preserve’ such a thing? I have, after all, gotten this far in life without much rhubarb. It can’t be about “preservation” if they are going to be gone within a few days? And how come supermarket checkers never seem to know what rhubarb is and have to ask someone else in order to ring it up? (“Hey Diane! Is this ‘Taro Root?”….um, no.) How come something this good only merits a few stalks in the produce section? Why isn’t everybody hoarding it like I am? (See above regarding so little supermarket demand.)

Rhubarb Pickles

This particular recipe seemed to be less about rhubarb pickling for preservation (or even as culinary ingredient) and about preparing rhubarb to be eaten as its own discrete treat. A little jewel of a snack. As a snack, they are perfect. Don’t fully peel the rhubarb so as to preserve the lovely red pigment. They will get a little chewier as a result but you are free to repeat the hot brine process as much as you want to get the consistency you like best. I did it twice. The original recipe called for honey instead of sugar. I substituted an equal amount of white sugar knowing that this would make the result less sweet since honey is sweeter than sugar by volume. This was fine with me as I wasn’t after the desert topping result the original recipe seemed intended for. To recapture the flavor loss this substitution I added in just a taste of brown sugar. Good move. I was pleased with the result and will probably do it this way again as honey can be a bit overpowering. The original recipe also calls for grenadine which is something I don’t keep on hand and since commercial grenadine is all high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. Instead of the poison that is HFCS I added a few tablespoons of Red Dye #4. Aren’t I sensible?

Rhubarb Pickles


Rhubarb Pickles

This is what you will need:

  • 1.5 lb. ripe rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbs. brown sugar
  • 2 tbs. maraschino cherry syrup -
  • 3 maraschino cherries – optional
  • 1 tbs. coarse salt
  • 2 star anise

This is how you make it:

  1. Trim the rhubarb stalks, discarding the coarse inch or so at each end.
  2. Discard any leaves and peel the rhubarb sparingly to keep red pigment.
  3. Only peel what looks to be ‘tough’.
  4. Cut the stalks into neat sections no more than 1 inches long and 1/4 inch wide.
  5. Place in flat-bottomed glass dish.
  6. Put the vinegars, sugars, syrup, salt, and star anise in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
  7. Add syrup and cherries.
  8. Turn off the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.
  9. Pour over the rhubarb and cover with plastic wrap. Let cool to room temperature.
  10. Taste the pickles for texture. If they’re too crisp for your taste, drain the liquid into a clean saucepan, bring back to a simmer, let it cool for a few minutes, then pour it over the rhubarb again, with the star anise.
  11. Store in the refrigerator in the liquid. Serve cold.

Guess who is checking out home made grenadine recipes?


About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don’t know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]” means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small ‘boom’ in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a “food blog” or even myself a “food blogger”.

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  1. My dad is growing rhubarb in his garden at the moment… I will definitely be stealing some to make these this weekend!
    thanks for the post, great blog

    Savile Joe

  2. http://www.stirrings.com/content/authentic-grenadine

    I don’t keep it on hand all the time, but it is wonderful!

    I still have a bit more rhubarb growing…I think I may give this a go! I let my rhubarb schnapps plans go & made strawberry rhubarb jam instead.

  3. Does it matter if you use spring or summer rhubarb? Spring rhubarb is tart and tender. Summer rhubarb loses the tangy flavor, but that might not matter with vinegar in the recipe. We grow lots of rhubarb and make jam and cobblers with it in the spring. My husband makes tons of pickles (cukes, beans, peppers, cauliflower, beets) but we haven’t tried rhubarb. I’d love to try that too.

  4. My friend’s mother makes rhubarb jam. They grow it but I’m not that talented to have a green thumb.

  5. I too have pickled rhubarb http://www.sippitysup.com/got-your-rhubarb-pickle yours is more complex and probably better (dammit) than mine. GREG

  6. I made these last night. I found they were pretty sour, so I added even more sugar for the second soak. They’re STILL pretty sour, but totally edible and maybe I will get used to it.

    Either way, it was an adventure. Thanks!

  7. Tom, its a bit late season so even though rhubarb is essentially quite sour (which is why a lot of us like it so much) late season rhubarb will have even less inherent sugars. Save the recipe for next spring and see how it goes. Thanks for stopping by!