This homemade Pickled Rhubarb recipe is one of my family’s favourite condiments to make during canning season each Spring.
We use local Ontario grown rhubarb and a pickling mixture flavoured with vinegar, sugar, salt, fresh tarragon and mustard seeds.
At breakfast, serve sour & sweet pickled rhubarb over Greek yogurt parfaits. For lunch, dinner or during snack time serve the condiment with a homemade cheese & charcuterie board.
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Rhubarb History & Uses
Rhubarb has been around forever, thank the Lord!
First known in Asia around 2700 BC and introduced to Europe around the 14th century, rhubarb was once a highly valuable commodity costing more than rare spices like saffron and cinnamon, and valued for its laxative qualities, common knowledge in Shakespearean times: “What rhubarb, cyme, or what purgative drug, Would scour these English hence?” growled Macbeth. He was talking about the roots; it would be another couple of centuries before home cooks started using the stalks.
Scandinavian cooks love cooking and baking with rhubarb. The fibrous stalks are typically harvested in Europe and North America in the late Spring and early Summer. In Sweden the tart fruit can be found in many culinary treats including jams, jellies, pies, cakes, ice cream and sparkling cider.
Way back when, a common and affordable sweet for children in parts of the United Kingdom and Sweden was a tender stick of rhubarb, dipped in sugar. It is still eaten this way in Finland, Norway, Canada, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Faroe Islands and Sweden.
Rhubarb as a central ingredient mostly shows up in desserts like pies, crumbles and crisps, but it can also hold its own in haute cuisine.
At Noma in Copenhagen, repeatedly voted the world’s best restaurant, the tender stalks have been served with milk curds. Thomas Keller features it in his cookbook The French Laundry as a confit paired with navel oranges, candied fennel, and mascarpone sorbet. Think of rhubarb as a ruffian weed that’s climbed the culinary ladder—one theory posits that one of the origins of the name has the “barb” part stemming from the same etymological root as “barbarian”.
We prepare Pickled Rhubarb at home each Spring, usually in May or June when our family rhubarb bush in the backyard garden has fully grown. It’s a popular recipe we make annually for our fermentation and pickling cupboard to enjoy year round.
Travel To Sweden by Making Pickled Rhubarb at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey and Italy.
I was in Stockholm during the Midsommar festival, and instantly fell in love with pickled rhubarb, which was served at a Michelin star restaurant as a condiment on a local cheese & charcuterie board. It’s also often served at luxury hotel brunch buffets with Greek yogurt as a healthy parfait topping.
Once back home from a Scandinavian holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of Sweden and can impress friends and family by making your very own homemade Pickled Rhubarb!
My Family Loves Pickled Rhubarb
After encountering Pickled Rhubarb on a visit to Sweden during Midsommar I thought I should introduce the condiment to my family.
My mother has a famous rhubarb plant that has been passed down for generations through her family. The hearty rhubarb bush has been transplanted several times, bursting through the soil at our home in Markham, Oakville, Muskoka and Toronto.
We harvest our rhubarb plant at home and at the cottage throughout the Spring and Summer. Our favourite way to use the tart and fibrous stocks is to chop them up and transform them into Healthy Rhubarb Muffins, Rhubarb Strawberry Dutch Baby, Rhubarb and Ginger Gin Cocktail or Pickled Rhubarb.
I made this easy homemade canning recipe in the Spring when rhubarb stalks are strong and ready to harvest. We use the pickled rhubarb throughout the summer as a topping for yogurt parfaits, condiment for cheese & charcuterie boards and as a topping for healthy ice cream sundaes.
Pickled Rhubarb Recipe Tips
Ready to make our homemade Swedish Pickled Rhubarb recipe? We suggest reading the recipe directions in detail to ensure you understand the step by step process.
You can prepare this recipe by harvesting your own rhubarb or by purchasing stalks at your local grocery store or farmers market. We prefer to use fresh rhubarb of course but you can also make this recipe using frozen rhubarb if you have any in the freezer from last season.
This healthy vegan pickled rhubarb recipe suggests chopping the stalks into 1-inch pieces. This makes it easy to serve over yogurt or as a condiment in a small ramekin for a cheese & charcuterie board.
You can also pickle rhubarb as long stalks. Simply cut them to be 1 inch shorter than the length of your mason jar. Once the rhubarb are standing in the jar pour the hot pickling liquid over them and let rest for up to a week. We particularly like to prepare the recipe this way if we are going to be giving away pickled rhubarb in jars as a gift to family or friends as they look gorgeous.
We’ve used fresh tarragon in this recipe but you could substitue for another fresh herb like mint, basil or chives.
Since rhubarb and strawberry are such a classic pairing feel free to add whole strawberries to the pickle jar. Pickled strawberries muddled with pickled rhubarb is bliss!
What To Serve With Pickled Rhubarb
Pickled Rhubarb needs to be harvested when the plant is in season, which is typically in late May or early June.
You can enjoy the homemade sweet & sour pickles 5-7 days after they have been canned in jars. Enjoy them year round until next season. Since they are so popular in our family they are usually all eaten up by the Fall.
Our favourite way to serve these homemade pickles is as a condiment for a cheese & charcuterie board. We suggest serving a diversity of cheeses on your board. Our favourites include Applewood Smoked Cheddar, Grizzly Gouda Cheese, Le Noble Brie, Celtic Blue Cheese, Red Leicester Cheese, Rocinante Iberico, Boschetto al Tartufo, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, Le Cendrillon, Le Riopelle de I’Isle, Boursin, Parmigiano Reggiano, Gorgonzola, Beemster XO and Mimolette.
Dessert lovers can enjoy a healthy late night snack by serving pickled rhubarb over vanilla ice cream and strawberry gelato.
If you’re looking to host a Swedish or Scandinavian potluck or dinner party, feel free to serve pickled rhubarb with popular dishes like Jordgubbstårta, Smörgåstårta and Kardemummabullar Swedish Cardamom Buns.
How To Store Pickles
If it’s your first time canning pickles or jam not to worry the process is really easy.
Follow these step by step pickling instructions to ensure your canned product is food safe. Be sure to clean the mason jars and heat them to the appropriate temperature so all pathogens are destroyed.
Place a funnel in the lip of the mason jar and use a large spoon to transfer the pickled rhubarb into the vessel. Leave 2-3 centimeters between the lid and the liquid so there is space for a vacuum seal to form.
Store the pickles in a cool dark place (such as a cupboard) for at least 5-7 days before opening to enjoy.
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How To Make Homemade Pickled Rhubarb
Homemade Pickled Rhubarb Recipe
- Mason Jars
- Wooden spoon
- French knife
- measuring spoons
- measuring cups
- 4 cups Rhubarb chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 2 cups White Vinegar
- 1 cup Water
- 1 cup White Sugar
- 1 tbsp Mustard Seeds
- 2 sprigs Tarragon
- In a mixing bowl, combine the rhubarb and salt, coating evenly. Let stand for 20 minutes, then drain quickly and return to the bowl.
- In a small pot, combine the vinegar water, sugar, mustard seeds, and tarragon and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and immediately poor over the rhubarb.
- Let cool completely, then cover tightly and refrigerate. Serve the rhubarb pickles after spending a few days in the fridge.
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