Pickled Rhubarb

Serves 4-6 27 January 2023 Dairy Free Gluten Free Vegetarian Friendly
There is a constant battle in my kitchen between my predisposition to over-purchase irresistible looking produce (AKA greediness ) and my desire to waste nothing. Thankfully, my love for anything sitting in vinegar and fermented, fuelled on by the global craze for picking has provided me with ample opportunity to prolong the life of leftover or excess ingredients.

Pickling rhubarb was a winning discovery for those odd couple of leftover stems from rhubarb bars, crumble bars, roasted rhubarb or galettes that I make on repeat when the ruby beauties are in season.

Pickling rhubarb is a savoury option and welcome addition to winter salads or simply as a tangy topping for smoked or roast fish, eggs, chicken, meat, vegetables, grains, grazing boards, grilled cheese…….you get the gist.  Because it barely cooks before it is steeped in the pickling liquor, the rhubarb retains its bite, adding a desirable little crunch to the piquant relish.

This pickle is made all the more luscious with the addition of blood orange zest. Thanks to the grace of the seasons, rhubarb and blood oranges collide perfectly at this time of year and are an ideal pairing (thank you mother nature). If you can’t get your hands on any blood oranges, oranges, lemons or clementines also work brilliantly here.

The gift of the pickle is that it takes mere minutes to make and is happy hanging around in your fridge for weeks ready to add instant zing to the what could be mundane.  Feel free to play around with the flavour base to suit your taste. I prefer to brine with rice vinegar, but others use wine vinegar. In terms of aromatic options, use any citrus of your choice, coriander seeds could replace the juniper, black or white peppercorns also work, as does rosemary or bay instead of, or as well as the thyme.

Happy pickling.

The pickle brine here is a basic liquor and can be used for just about any vegetable or fruit (think onions, fennel, peaches, apples, cauliflower) and shake up the spices and herbs to your hearts content. It’s an exciting world of pickles out there………..


  • 2 tsp juniper berries
  • 1 tsp toasted fennel seed
  • 1/2 tsp pink peppercorns
  • 125ml seasoned rice vinegar
  • 125 ml water
  • zest from 1 blood orange (peeled into strips with a vegetable peeler)
  • a handful of thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a thumb size piece of ginger
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 125g sugar
  • 300g (approximately 2 sticks) rhubarb slices into 1cm strips on a slight diagonal
  • Place all the ingredients apart from the sugar and the rhubarb in a medium sized pan and gently bring the the boil.

Add the sugar and continue to simmer until it is completely dissolved into the liquor.  Keeping the heat on a medium heat, add the sliced rhubarb to the pan, making sure all the pieces are submerged and cover.

Allow to simmer for 30 seconds.  Remove the pan from the heat, uncover and pour out the pickled rhubarb and all the liquid into a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid.

Cool completey, cover and store in the fridge. Leave to pickle for at least 2 days before opening and tasting. The longer it sits, the picklier it will become.

This is a quick pickle and will keep for a month in the fridge.

NOTE: rhubarb stalks vary in size – some are very thin and some are quite thick. If your stems are on the thinner side, cut them in to 1cm slices and skip the 30 second simmering stage. Instead, make the liquor and place the sliced rhubarb in the bottom of the jar and cover with the hot pickling liquid, making sure it’s submerged. Cover and allow to cool. This will soften the rhubarb without turning the smaller pieces to pickled mush.

Have you made this dish?

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