Wild and Lazy Fermentation

Rhubarb Lactopickles for Spring!

Lactofermented spring rhubarb pickle on whey ricotta toast

Pinks and greens make this rhubarb pickle perfect for spring. How-to on the whey ricotta pictured coming next week!

I’m nowhere near done with cheese, but you have to put something on your cheese tray besides cheese, right?  And I don’t want you all to miss out on your spring pickles!  By the time I’m done with cheese, rhubarb and aspargus will be all gone until next year in Philly, so here you go: a simple, spring recipe.

If you regularly read this blog, you’ll know that I recommend pickles as an excellent fermentation starting point.  Why?  They are nearly foolproof if you know a few rules!  The first and most important trick is picking the right vegetables.  There are a few things I haven’t been able to get to work well, many others that work well with some tweaks, and a ton that work with very little effort.  The second key is submersion.  If your veggies are submerged under brine, that gives you the anaerobic conditions that are necessary for the LAB to thrive.  The third rule is temperature, room temp works great!  Get below 65ish degrees and we’re talking some serious sluggishness and potential that the bacteria never get kicking.  Above 80 or so, things might start to ferment too quickly, or it may get too hot for your LAB to start their happy processes.

So here’s one that’s super easy and popping up at the farmer’s markets all over town at the moment: rhubarb!  As always, with pickles, feel free to change out the seasonings for what you have on hand or what you prefer.  I actually think these rhubarb pickles would be great with nothing but salt.  The tangy, fruity notes of fresh rhubarb can stand alone!

I got these veggies at my local farmer’s market at Headhouse Square.  It is operated by the renowned Food Trust, a local organization dedicated to eradicating food deserts and educating kids on their food choices.  I’m pretty proud that they call Philly home and I’m grateful for the local bounty that they, and a couple other wonderful organizations to bring  into the city.

Easy to make tangy rhubarb pickles!

Pretty rhubarb pickles will have pink brine!

Rhubarb Pickles

yields about 1 quart of rhubarb pickles

fermentation time will be approximately 2 weeks

I usually make my single quart batches of pickles while I’m preparing another meal.  I already have the cutting board out, so it really adds no time to dinner prep and the payoff is pretty huge!


  • 5 relatively slender stalks (about 1 inch wide) of rhubarb, leaves removed, chopped into 1-inch pieces (the leaves are toxic, so seriously, don’t use them)
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stem green garlic, chopped into 1-inch pieces (sub 2, whole garlic cloves if you can’t get green garlic)
  • Room temperature brine (I make mine by stirring 1 T of salt into 2 c water until dissolved)


1.  Place all ingredients except brine into a 1 quart jar making sure that your bay leaf stays whole.  You may layer in your mustard seeds and bay leaf for visual effect, but I have not found that their position in the jar influences flavor

2. Pour brine into jar, ensuring that there is enough liquid in which to submerge your rhubarb

3. Use ghetto jar method or similar to submerge your veggies

4. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 2 weeks or until desired acidity is achieved

5.  Enjoy while they last!  These are the go-to jar for my husband at the moment

Top view of lacto fermented rhubarb pickles

Pink brine and green garlic gone pink!


  1. Posted May 30, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Your rhubarb looks amazing and so delicious!

    I’m definitely going to try your recipe but I don’t know what green garlic is. In your beauty pics it almost looks like baby leeks sliced into 1-inch pieces. Am I on the right track?

    Thanks for sharing your ideas and pics! Much inspiring.

  2. Posted May 31, 2013 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    I’m going to give this a whirl. I’m guessing that with this you use kosher or pickling salt, just as you do with other pickles?

  3. Amanda
    Posted May 31, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Hi Becky,

    Any salt will do! I like to use sea salt because it has a higher mineral content and the fermentation process makes minerals more bioavailable, but you can use anything at all. Unlike vinegar pickles, these are going to get cloudy no matter what kind of salt you use. With rhubarb, that makes for a pink, cloudy, pretty brine but with vegetables with plainer color schemes, the brine will just look cloudy.

    Let me know how they turn out!


  4. Amanda
    Posted June 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Hi Cindy,
    Sorry I missed your comment. Green garlic is just spring garlic, long stems still attached. It looks a lot like garlic at the base, it’s just that the cloves aren’t fully differentiated from one another (you’ll see them when you slice it). It isn’t as pungent as garlic, but still provides a great, garlicky taste. I sometimes grow garlic and that’s a great way to get them cheap. Otherwise, it’s off to the farmer’s market!
    Let me know how your pickles turn out!

  5. Posted June 6, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Lactopickles! These look absurdly good — so perfect for goat cheese. You are genius!

  6. Amanda
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Madame! They are tasty. If I can get my hands on some more rhubarb, I’ll bring you some. We ate the whole quart!

  7. Dona
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    I made a gallon of these pickles and patiently waited the two weeks. Today, the two weeks is up. These are absolutely delicious. I can’t stop eating them!

  8. Amanda
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    So glad to hear it, Dona! Along with snap peas and asparagus, my rhubarb pickles are at the top of my pickle list for this year (so far). Glad you love them, too! We got through a quart in like two days. Then I made a half-gallon, and those are long gone, though there’s no more rhubarb to be found around here anymore.

  9. Dona
    Posted July 23, 2013 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    I’ve already eaten almost a half gallon by myself already today. No one will try them! It’s probably just as well.

    I love this recipe. People put vinegar and sugar and all sorts of things in pickles but these are just right for me. I may reduce the salt a wee bit. Other than that, I’m so glad no one else wants to give them a try.

  10. Posted April 10, 2014 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Oh man, I am totally trying these this year. I made a sweeter refrigerator version from Kim Ode’s Rhubarb book last year (it goes with a kale salad recipe -so good!) and I found they were a good sub for celery in lots of things. Didn’t think to try a fermented version :)

  11. Amanda
    Posted April 10, 2014 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    Hi Sara,

    Sounds delish! I haven’t added that pickled rhubarb to any kale salads yet, but now that’s definitely on the agenda!

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