Monday, May 9, 2011

Fermented Rhubarb (savory)

Click here to watch Fermented Rhubarb Video

Here's a page out of my book, "Lactofermentation Through the Season". Just in time for the first Rhubarb stalks.

Fermented Rhubarb

Seasonally, rhubarb is one of the first vegetables that I ferment since it is one of the first to be available in late spring/early summer. Since it is perennial it is best to harvest some while leaving some to continue collecting sunshine, water and nutrients to build the root system. Because of this I will make it in small batches throughout the season as the plant puts out more stalks.

In most recipes rhubarb is cooked so the toughness gets softened. Lacto-fermentation is essentially a raw product so it’s important to use tender rhubarb stalks. Lacto-fermentation will soften the rhubarb to a degree but tough, stringy rhubarb may not ever become palatable. Best to use young stalks no more than 1 inch wide. And remember: Do not use Rhubarb leaves as they are toxic!!

Yield 1-2 quarts

Ingredients & Equipment

• 10 stalks young rhubarb no more than 1 inch wide
• Leaf layer: horseradish leaves, Swiss chard leaves or blackberry/raspberry leaves
• Do not use Rhubarb leaves as they are toxic!

For the brine
• 2 quarts filtered or spring water
• Pure salt, kosher, pickling or coarse sea salt, with no additives

• Large pot for boiling water
• 2 wide mouth quart canning jars
• 2 canning lids and rings
• 2-4 rocks
• Small pot for sterilizing the canning lids, rings and rocks
• Wooden pressing tool
• Wide mouth funnel (optional) for filling the jar
• Ladle


Making the Brine
• Bring the filtered water to a boil for 4 minutes.
• After it’s cooled a bit add 3 tablespoons of salt and stir to dissolve.
• Allow brine to cool to near room temperature (2-4 hours or overnight).

• In a small pot sterilize lids, rings and rocks by boiling them for 4 minutes.
• Let them cool for about 10 minutes and pour out the water to let them cool further.

Leaf Layer
• Wash leaves and reserve.

Assembling the Jars

Filling the Jars
• When the brine is almost cool chop rhubarb into bite size pieces.
• Start layering the rhubarb into the jar an inch or two high at a time, gently pressing it down with wooden pressing tool.
• Keep adding 1-2 inch layers of rhubarb, pressing down each layer until about 2-3 inches of space is left at the top.
• Press it down again.

Leaf Layer
• Add a layer of leaves on top of the top layer of rhubarb and press it in.

• Place a rock or rocks on top of the leaves.

Brine into Jars
• Ladle brine into the jar leaving about 1 inch of space from the top.
• Let sit uncovered for 10 minutes to allow air bubbles to escape.
• If the brine level drops below 1 inch from the top add some more brine.
• Wipe any brine off top of jar, put lid on jar, and screw on band.


• Allow to ferment on kitchen counter or shelf for 3 days at room temperature, 72 degrees.
• Gently move to the refrigerator.
• Taste after 2 weeks. It may be ready or it may need more time.
• Store in refrigerator. Taste gets better with time.
• Lasts 1-3 months in refrigerator.

The fermented rhubarb is very good using only rhubarb but for variation try adding spring scallions, spring celery leaves, early chard stems and/or tender horseradish stems for very interesting and sometimes very exciting flavor!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Primroses - Hose-in-Hose

Here is a photo of one of my favorite flowers from my garden, blooming now. Given to me by my friend Hilda, (an Englishwoman transplanted to New Hampshire, US). They are double primroses, called Hose-in-Hose, because each flower has a flower growing out of the center.
I just found out that primroses are edible; haven't eaten them yet, though. Too pretty.