Fermenting & Pickling / Recipes

Savory Rhubarb Pickles

Savory rhubarb pickles

In the summer, my rhubarb patch is out of control. In fact, last summer I had to pull out one of my rhubarb plants because it had divided itself so much that it left no room for anything else in the bed. Even with just one plant now, I find it impossible to keep up with all the rhubarb in my garden.

Historically known as the “pie plant” (although classified as a vegetable), rhubarb is sweet and tart like a fruit. That means its culinary use is usually relegated to things like syrups, jams, pies, crumbles, and tarts, and I can only make so many of those before I want to swear off rhubarb forever. If you’re like me and crave a savory rhubarb recipe, this is one of my favorite ways to use the stalks.

These rhubarb pickles are sharp and sour, and the perfect accompaniment to a platter of cheese and charcuterie. Or, dice them up and spear them onto a toothpick to garnish a cocktail.

I happened to have a handful of dried chiles from last summer, so I tossed those into the pickles too — although you can adjust the heat to your liking, or omit them entirely. Maybe you want to add red pepper flakes instead. Whatever you do, serve these up with something rich and smoky for a totally different take on rhubarb!

Savory Rhubarb Pickles

Makes 4 pints

Ingredients

2 pounds rhubarb stalks
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole allspice
4 small whole dried chiles (of heat preference)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons pickling salt
1/2 cup sugar

Method

Thoroughly wash and dry your rhubarb stalks, then trim them down to fit your jars. I cut mine into 3-inch segments, though if your stalks are particularly thick, you can also slice them in half lengthwise.

Fresh rhubarb

Trim rhubarb stalks to fit jars

Divide the peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, allspice, and chiles evenly among hot, clean jars, then pack the rhubarb tightly into them.

Dried chili peppers

Pack jars with spices and rhubarb segments

In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to a rolling boil, and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved.

Pour the hot brine over the rhubarb, covering them completely and leaving at least 1/2-inch headspace. Run a chopstick (or the end of a long spoon) around the sides of the jars to release any trapped air bubbles.

Pickled rhubarb

Wipe the rims clean, seal with lids and bands, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (adjust the time for altitude as needed).

Let the rhubarb pickle for at least two to three days before digging in — and then enjoy! Properly canned and unopened jars are shelf-stable for up to a year.

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »

36 Comments

  • JohnS
    May 16, 2020 at 12:44 am

    I made these – and the flavor was good – but the texture was mushy. Really mushy – in a very unappetizing way. 🙁 I used wide rhubarb stalks that I split into halves – is that the problem?

    Reply
    • Linda from Garden Betty
      May 16, 2020 at 4:54 am

      That’s a possibility. I used my rhubarb stalks whole (just cut down in length) so they had a decent girth to them. But so you know, these pickles won’t be crisp; they’ll be tender. If you like yours with a crunch, then just put the jars in the fridge without processing them in the boiling water bath.

      Reply
  • sind57
    May 25, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    When I think of pickled, I think of dill. Should or could their be dill added? Does pickled rhubarb have a sour taste close to dill pickles or more a sweet taste like bread and butter pickles?

    Reply
    • Linda from Garden Betty
      May 28, 2018 at 11:14 pm

      The flavor of pickled rhubarb (or pickled anything) just depends on the spices and herbs used in the brine. You can certainly use dill in combination with other spices if you like that traditional dill flavor, but the brine recipe I provide here has more of a tangy-hot flavor (and would overpower dill).

      Reply
  • Susan
    April 27, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    If you are going to eat within a two week period can you skip the water bath and just leave in refrigerator?

    Reply
    • Linda from Garden Betty
      May 28, 2018 at 10:07 pm

      Yes, you can simply refrigerate these pickles without canning them, but keep in mind that the texture will be very different (as the rhubarb will be more crisp without the water bath).

      Reply
  • Margo, Thrift at Home
    May 29, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    I think I need to try these. I’ve got a bag of rhubarb in my fridge and I’ve made 4 pies already and a batch of jam.

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      May 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      It’s definitely a nice non-desserty way to use up rhubarb. 🙂

      Reply
  • Aparna
    July 15, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Do you by any chance pickle green chillies?

    Reply
    • Linda Ly
      July 18, 2013 at 1:21 am

      I haven’t yet, but if I get a good shishito pepper crop this summer I hope to pickle some!

      Reply

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