Ginger pickled rhubarb

Here’s another idea that sprung from the leftovers of weekend recipe cooking.

You may remember that two weekends ago, a number of the papers devoted much column space to rhubarb – there was a whole section in the Independent, and a fair scattering elsewhere.

I used most of an armful of rhubarb to cook Ottolenghi’s roasted rhubarb and rice pudding number. But this left me with the best part of a bunch of tarragon and, as I’d also overbought rhubarb, a few spare stems of the pink stuff.

Rather than just roast the remaining barb, I looked for alternative ideas that suited small quantities of the plant. A Mark Hix recipe for pickled rhubarb intrigued. So I gave it a go.

Pickled rhubarb

It sure looked stunning. But, to be honest, I found the flavour far too sharp – the pickle liquor was 100% cider vinegar, no water – and a bit one note. Certainly room for improvement.

So I diluted the vinegar, added ginger sliced on the thinnest mandolin setting, and a dusting of the tarragon – a flavour pairing used in the Ottolenghi recipe. The end result was much more interesting.

I’ve made it again since, this time with the diluted liquor from the beginning, but the tarragon only at the last minute. This keeps the herbal aniseed quality fresh, and the flavours of the pickled roots and stems sharp and distinct. I like that the pickle liquor is not warmed – so the rhubarb and ginger retain some crunch.

Like sushi ginger, this is lovely to just pick at. I’ve also enjoyed it on the side of a gammon chop. Ditto an aggressively grilled (and therefore charred) mackerel. Any salty meat or oily fish would do.

Alternatively, and probably FTW, add it to mature cheddar and stilton cheese on toast (post grill). See below.

Ginger pickled rhubarb

Ginger pickled rhubarb

  • 200g (1 stem) forced rhubarb
  • 70g peeled fresh ginger (thumb sized)
  • 35g (1/2 a small) red onion
  • 150ml cider vinegar
  • 70ml cold water
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 15g sea salt
  • the leaves from 10 sprigs tarragon

Slice the rhubarb as thinly as you can on a 45% angle. Use a mandolin on its thinnest setting to slice the ginger and half a red onion. Put all of these in a non reactive container (tupperware is ideal).

Whisk the salt and sugar into the water and vinegar. When all the granules have dissolved, pour the liquor over the rhubarb, ginger and onion.

Cover with cling film – pushing the film directly onto the contents of the container, so as to ensure they’re covered by liquor. Cling film the container again / close with an air tight lid. It’s fine to eat from about 4 hours onwards. But best after 24.

Just before you use the pickle, strip the leaves from the tarragon sprigs and chop finely. Stir through the pickled rhubarb.

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