This piece was originally published on Foodie Underground.
I remember walking barefoot in the garden as a child completely seduced by the rhubarb plants. The bright red of the stalk, the impressiveness of the size of the leaf. Because I was what you may call a “hippie child” I also loved to eat things straight out of the garden. No rinsing or preparing, just food straight from the source. Summer was a bountiful time with plenty of snap peas, blueberries, and raspberries to keep me entertained.
And then that rhubarb, which because of its color always looked as if it would taste sweet and juicy, but to a child’s palate was just a little bit too sour. But I ate it anyway, sometimes convincing my mother to give me a bowl of sugar so that I could dip the rhubarb in and take a sweeter bite.
I think we’re scared of rhubarb in its pure form because of that sourness. In a world of hyper-processed foods, we are used to things that are sweet, so we pull back from anything that’s a little sour or bitter. But start cutting back on refined sugar in your diet and you’ll quickly realize how naturally sweet so many things are.
Which brings us back to raw rhubarb. I have been intrigued by using rhubarb in its raw form, and marinating it just a little in a vinegary brine is a great way to do that. Of course, I love fermenting and pickling anything in sight, so I put the raw rhubarb in a brine of apple cider vinegar, water, honey, and a little salt. This is “quick pickling” as we’re not letting it sit for an extended period of time and lacto-ferment. That also means you don’t have to plan too far in advance before getting to taste the results.
This ends up making for a pretty funky end product: It’s sweet, tangy, and just a little sour. I did a similar version of this last summer with lemon verbena instead of mint. You can enjoy this on its own, but also as a condiment on salads. If you’re adventurous, I’m sure it could even be incorporated into a dessert, or perhaps in a cocktail.
Quick Pickled Rhubarb With Mint
3 stalks rhubarb
1 cup water
¼ cup raw honey
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ tsp salt
A few sprigs of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Rinse the rhubarb stalks and thinly slice them on a diagonal so that you get bigger slices.
In a sealable jar, combine the water, honey, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Cover with the lid and shake until the honey has fully dissolved.
Add in the sliced rhubarb and mint and cover with the lid. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
Store in the refrigerator.
Anna Brones is the author of The Culinary Cyclist, Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, Paris Coffee Revolution, and Hello, Bicycle. She is the founder of the quarterly publication Comestible and runs the site Foodie Underground.