Friday, July 10, 2009

Pickled Rhubarb

Here in Minnesota you can't swing a cat without hitting a rhubarb patch. Even people without gardens grow rhubarb. A week or so after the rhubarb comes in people start trying to pawn their harvest off on other people. It's not unusual to walk out your front door in the morning and find a huge pile of rhubarb on your front step and your neighbor's rhubarb plant looking suspiciously smaller. After all, rhubarb is easy to grow and everything but what do you really do with it?

This year I ended up with a huge supply of rhubarb. I made strawberry rhubarb jam, strawberry rhubarb fruit leather, apple rhubarb chutney, a rhubarb based barbecue sauce and these:
Rhubarb pickles.

How do they taste? It's hard to explain. They are sour and tart and delicious. I can't think of a single reason not to make these. And I say that as a person who doesn't really like rhubarb. If you find yourself with some excess rhubarb this year give these yummy, easy as can be pickles.

2 - 3 cups chopped rhubarb (about 1/2 inch slices)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
(optional) 2 whole cloves and 2 whole allspice or small slice of fresh ginger or small pinch of red pepper flakes

Combine vinegar, sugar and salt (other spices if you chose to use them) in a small pan. Bring to a boil and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour boiling liquid over the chopped rhubarb. Cover and leave at room temperature for three hours. Refrigerate. Wait 24 hours before eating pickles to allow flavor to develop. Pickles will keep in the fridge for three months but there's no way you'll have any left for that long.

So far I have just been eating these straight from the fridge but they would be perfect on a spinach salad with some walnuts and feta cheese. I used this same pickling method on cherries with equally delicious results. I encourage you to try it out. I think you'll be pleased with the results.