This jar is already half-eaten. I am now fully addicted so I’m sure it will be empty as I finish this post. I didn’t know what I was going to do with these yet I was absolutely driven to make them after realizing there was more to pickles than cucumbers. My confusion seems like a distant memory now as I just can’t stop eating them…one…by…one…bye one… This pickle binge is still in full force and yet I’m already feeling the tinge of panic as I realize I only made 1 quart of these infatuation inspiring enigmatic parcels of joy. This addiction will certainly propel me back to the the vinegar aisle and kitchen before the week is out. Its a good thing they are terribly easy to make.
As culinary explorations go this one raises quite a few questions: Why the sudden need to ‘preserve’ such a thing? I have, after all, gotten this far in life without much rhubarb. It can’t be about “preservation” if they are going to be gone within a few days? And how come supermarket checkers never seem to know what rhubarb is and have to ask someone else in order to ring it up? (“Hey Diane! Is this ‘Taro Root?”….um, no.) How come something this good only merits a few stalks in the produce section? Why isn’t everybody hoarding it like I am? (See above regarding so little supermarket demand.)
This particular recipe seemed to be less about rhubarb pickling for preservation (or even as culinary ingredient) and about preparing rhubarb to be eaten as its own discrete treat. A little jewel of a snack. As a snack, they are perfect. Don’t fully peel the rhubarb so as to preserve the lovely red pigment. They will get a little chewier as a result but you are free to repeat the hot brine process as much as you want to get the consistency you like best. I did it twice. The original recipe called for honey instead of sugar. I substituted an equal amount of white sugar knowing that this would make the result less sweet since honey is sweeter than sugar by volume. This was fine with me as I wasn’t after the desert topping result the original recipe seemed intended for. To recapture the flavor loss this substitution I added in just a taste of brown sugar. Good move. I was pleased with the result and will probably do it this way again as honey can be a bit overpowering. The original recipe also calls for grenadine which is something I don’t keep on hand and since commercial grenadine is all high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. Instead of the poison that is HFCS I added a few tablespoons of Red Dye #4. Aren’t I sensible?
adapted from Johnny Iuzzini’s Rhubarb Pickles
This is what you will need:
- 1.5 lb. ripe rhubarb
- 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 tbs. brown sugar
- 2 tbs. maraschino cherry syrup -
- 3 maraschino cherries – optional
- 1 tbs. coarse salt
- 2 star anise
This is how you make it:
- Trim the rhubarb stalks, discarding the coarse inch or so at each end.
- Discard any leaves and peel the rhubarb sparingly to keep red pigment.
- Only peel what looks to be ‘tough’.
- Cut the stalks into neat sections no more than 1 inches long and 1/4 inch wide.
- Place in flat-bottomed glass dish.
- Put the vinegars, sugars, syrup, salt, and star anise in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Add syrup and cherries.
- Turn off the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.
- Pour over the rhubarb and cover with plastic wrap. Let cool to room temperature.
- Taste the pickles for texture. If they’re too crisp for your taste, drain the liquid into a clean saucepan, bring back to a simmer, let it cool for a few minutes, then pour it over the rhubarb again, with the star anise.
- Store in the refrigerator in the liquid. Serve cold.
Guess who is checking out home made grenadine recipes?