Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb….
I know all you actors out there have a hard time separating this fibrous ruby-red stalk from a vocal warm up… rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb….me, me, me me, me, me….unique New York, unique New York, unique New York…
Rhubarb has a marvelous puckery fruity flavor that makes it versatile as a white meat garnish or a dessert filling. But here’s the problem – it gets mushy, really mushy when cooked– and as a meat garnish this is not the desired consistency. Hence my newest version of quick pickled rhubarb that does not involve canning or boiling away that fabulous stalk to pink goo.
Quick pickling anything is as easy as making a brine or pickling liquid (a mixture of vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices). Boiling it. And pouring it over the vegetables of desire and letting it stand until cool. Then refrigerate for a few hours and eat up! Quick pickles can last up to a week in the refrigerator. For sweeter quick pickles add more sugar.
Use the red-ist stalks you can find. Although ripe rhubarb can be green too (can it be called ‘ripe’? Somehow that doesn’t seem like the correct term here.) I think it makes for prettier presentation when red. I should also mention that the pickling liquid makes for a terrific vinaigrette. I like to serve this little pickle side dish along chicken or pork.
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 31/2 cup water
- 1 cup sugar (plus extra if you like it sweeter)
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt (plus extra if you like it saltier)
- 10 black peppercorns
- 4 star anise
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 bunch red rhubarb, cut to desired length
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
- 1 small fresh ginger nub, peeled and sliced on the bias 1/8-inch
Add all ingredients except rhubarb to a small sauce pot and boil. Taste pickling liquid carefully (steaming vinegar has a way of making one gag when the fumes are inhaled). It should have a nice balance of salty-sweet but more on the sweet side. Remember rhubarb is very tart. Adjust sugar and salt levels, bring back up to a boil and pour over rhubarb along with all the spices.
I always find the pickling liquid drinkable, so if it's not quite there adjust it. Let rhubarb cool in liquid and then refrigerate. Quick pickles taste better a few hours after refrigeration.