Garnish: Pickled Rhubarb

Garnish: Pickled Rhubarb

My bestie and co-author, Stephanie the Kitchen Ninja, tried this pickled rhubarb recently. Her reaction is thus:

When I first tasted this pickle, I reflexively made an awful, sour face that felt like someone was sucking my eyeballs into my brainstem. Garrett looked at me, concerned, and asked, “It’s not good?” After taking a few seconds to catch my breath, I squeaked out that no, I thought it was actually quite good. I just wasn’t prepared for it. I think I choked out the words “bracing” and “astringent” before diving in for a second piece.

Pickled rhubarb is sweet, spicy, and simply put – bracing. It’s a pickle-lover’s pickle. A bite can likely cause the weak-willed to suck air in through their teeth after a bite and grip the table. But the flavor, the sweetness, the sour air, the tart slap, and a spice with enough bite that it leaves marks like a bad (or good) kisser.

So what to use this for? Martinis. Dirty, dirty martinis. A spoonful of the pickle brine and garnish with a baton of tickle pink rhubarb. It'll shake things up from your usual olive or onion routine.

Bonus: the color. That beautiful color. Martini dressed to kill.

Need a recipe to pair with it? Try this couscous salad with pickled rhubarb and feta. Set your heart a-flutter that one.


Your new favorite garnish. Sensible, flavorful, chic.

Your new favorite garnish. Sensible, flavorful, chic.

Pickled Rhubarb

What You'll Need:

  • 3 stalks rhubarb
  • 2 star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Half cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 5 whole peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • canning jars (a single 32-ounce jar will do)

What You'll Do:

1. Trim the rhubarb of its leaves and stocky ends and discard those bits. Slice rhubarb into 2-inch long batons and place in the canning jar. Add anise, pepper flakes, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cloves, and peppercorns. (If you have a pre-made pickling spice that will do fine, too.)

2. Pour vinegar, sugar, and salt into a small pot and boil until clear. Pour hot brine over rhubarb and stir well. Screw the lid on the canning jar and place in the refrigerator. Let sit for 48 hours.

3. Use within a month. If you have leftover vinegar after using the pickled rhubarb, reserve it for vinaigrette, cocktails, or whatever else you think needs a tart, astringent sock in the eye.

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