Rhubarb is the first fruit of spring. Its beautiful red colour comes with a tartness that usually has rhubarb paired with super sweet desserts. In comparison, fermented rhubarb has a mild flavour that doesn’t require any additional sweetness.
In fact, I only every cook and serve fermented rhubarb. Why?
- Fermentation cuts the tartness of rhubarb while keeping its distinct flavour.
- Using a yeast-based ferment means that no additional sugar is needed. The rhubarb is about as sweet as cherries or pears.
- The fermentation liquid is perfect for flavouring sparkling water or cocktails.
- It’s a zero-waste, no-cook way to preserve rhubarb. Literally, pack it in a jar and you’re done!
How to serve fermented rhubarb
Fermented rhubarb is delicious straight from the jar or pureed into a fresh sauce. Either way, it is perfect serving with all the usual suspects:
Types of Yeast-Based Cultures
I’ve made fermented rhubarb with ginger bug, cultured cider vinegar and whey. All three ways worked perfectly. Basically, any yeast-based culture will work with this recipe. Not sure exactly what counts as a yeast-based culture? Here is a short list:
- Ginger bug will add a delicious ginger-y flavour to the rhubarb.
- Other fermented beverages include kombucha, water kefir or jun
- Milk kefir whey (not yogurt or cheese whey) will have the yeast necessary for this ferment.
- Probably the EASIEST culture is apple cider vinegar. The trick is to make sure that you are using a live-cultured ACV (affiliate link). If you are buying ACV from the grocery store look for “raw”, “with mother” and “unpasteurized” on the label.
Sweet Fermented Rhubarb
Fermented rhubarb is a delicious way to preserve the first fruit of spring. It can be left whole or pureed into a pretty pink sauce. See the section above for some serving suggestions.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 1 quart jar 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: British
- Diet: Vegan
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup of filtered water, or enough to cover
- 1/4 cup of a yeast-based starter culture (see above for suggestions)
- 2 cups of rhubarb, diced (approximately 6 stalks)
- 1-inch of ginger (optional, for flavour)
- Mix the filtered water and sugar in a glass jar until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Stir in the culture.
- Dice the rhubarb into serving-sized pieces. I like the added flavour of ginger, but it’s optional. There’s no need to peel the ginger, just wash the skin and slice it in half. It will provide plenty of flavour.
- Add the rhubarb and ginger to the jar, then top with enough filtered water to keep the fruit submerged, while leaving at least 1″ of headroom at the top of the jar.
- Leave the jar to sit out on the counter to ferment for 2-3 days. Yeast-based cultures generally do best with exposure to air, so cover the jar with a piece of cloth held in place with a rubber band or jar ring.
- After 3 days the rhubarb will have developed a mild, sweet flavour. At this point, you can either leave it whole or puree it into a sauce. It may start out sparkling, however, that will mellow out after a few more days.
- Store fermented rhubarb for up to 2 months in the refrigerator, or freeze it in straight-sided mason jars (affiliate link) for winter eating.
- The leftover fermenting liquid can be reused for at least two more batches of rhubarb. It also makes a delicious cordial that is perfect when mixed with sparkling water.
- I generally don’t use sugar in recipes, however, this ferment relies on sucrose to feed the culture. If you are looking for a salt-brined fermented rhubarb, check out this recipe from Katie at Tracebridge Sourdough.
Keywords: vegan, gluten free, 5 ingredients or less, diary free, nut free, soy free, beverage, probiotic, spring, summer