Recently I’ve been on a bit of a pickled frenzy and have been pickling anything and everything. I’ve done carrots (orange, yellow and purple), cauliflower, onions, apples and sultanas and last but not least rhubarb. One of my favorite things about February is forced rhubarb and I find something somewhat romantic about the way it grows. First outdoors to toughen the stems before being moved into lightless sheds and kept warm. Here it grows fast and tall as it searches longingly for light. It reminds me a little of myself in February – willingly waiting for brighter days. Forced rhubarb is sweeter than the summer crop. Long and thin it has vivid rosy pink skin and a creamy white centre. I bought a bunch earlier this week and it was so pretty I had to pickle it. Pickled rhubarb is especially delicious with smokey flavours such as mackerel and smoked cheese or as a condiment to chillis or stews. I’ve recently discovered that it is rather tasty with peanut or almond butter slathered toast too. (This might be a bit of a ‘love it/hate it’ marmite combination but if you are daring I do recommend trying it.)
- 3-4 stems rhubarb
- 200mly cider vinegar
- 150ml water
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
- 1 tsp pink peppercorns
- 2 star Anais
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- ½ tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seed
- 2 bay leaves
2 small sterilised* jars or 1 medium
(I used one 350ml and one 200ml clip top kilner jars but empty jam jars will do)
- Wash and chop your rhubarb into equal sized pieces which match the height of your jars leaving just a cm from the top. I like to fill my jars as I chop before sterilising them to make sure I have a packed jar. You want to ensure that the rhubarb is well packed within. Once chopped set aside.
- Place your remaining ingredients into a medium non reactive** saucepan and bring just to a simmer or until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool completely.
- Repack your rhubarb into your warm sterilised jars and pour over the cooled liquid. Seal and keep in a cool dark place. The rhubarb should be ready in about 7 days but can keep for up to 2 months unopened. Once open keep refrigerated and consume within two weeks.
* To sterilise your jars. Wash them in hot soapy water and rise well before placing them into a warm oven of 120 degrees for at least 20 minutes until completely dry. To sterilise the lids place them in a saucepan of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Dry with a clean cloth. If you are using clip top jars with rubber seals as I have remove your rubber seals before washing the jars and placing in the oven and follow the lid simmer method for the seals.
** some metals react with acidic ingredients such as tomatoes and vinegar and can affect the taste as well as causing staining to your saucepan. Its best to avoid using enamel or aluminum pots for this and opt for a stainless steel one.