Rhubarb – pick the pink stalks of Spring to make lacto-fermented rhubarb with cardamom and ginger

Not everyone is a fan of rhubarb; a rhubarb crumble is nice, maybe a rhubarb tart. Cooking rhubarb, even gently, often leaves it mushy and that can be off-putting.

But rhubarb is the first ‘pudding’ crop of the garden year and that makes it special. Before the strawberries and gooseberries, rhubarb is forcing jolly pink and green umbrellas up out of the newly warmed earth. Spring is here and a new season of cooking begins.

Technically a vegetable, (except in the US where it’s a fruit) rhubarb has a long history of use in the kitchen, often cooked with Sweet Cicely as a herbal sweetener, and in medicine. The leaves are poisonous, but a good addition to the compost heap.This fermented rhubarb is a revelation. Lovely and crunchy on its own or in cereal or porridge, and delicious in a rhubarb and apple fool (see below).  If you buy your rhubarb in the shops it may be the bright pink of forced rhubarb (slightly sweeter) or the greener, darker pink tones of outdoor rhubarb. Either works in this recipe. (Adapted from Fermentista)

Fermented Rhubarb infused with Ginger and Cardamom

  • 1lb rhubarb stalks, sliced
  • 1  teaspoon pink Himalayan Salt (has a higher mineral content and is sweeter)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Place sliced rhubarb, salt, ginger, and cardamom in a bowl. Massage all the ingredients together. When the salt has coated all the rhubarb and it is starting to weep, cover with a towel. Allow to sit for a half hour, then press into a jar.

When the brine is above the rhubarb weight it down and allow to ferment on a work-top in a warmplace, out of direct sunlight, for four to five days. Then use in Rhubarb and Apple Fool.

Rhubarb and Apple Fool

Enough for 3

Take a cup of your fermented rhubarb and put in a liquidiser with two cups of pureed apple (I had some left in the freezer) and two tablespoons of sugar. Blitz.

Whip half a pint of double cream (or use yogurt) till firm and fold in the pureed apple rhubarb mixture. Delicious!

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When the brine is above the rhubarb weight it down and allow to ferment on a work-top in a warmplace, out of direct sunlight, for four to five days. Then use in Rhubarb and Apple Fool.

Joanie Gorman