Pickled Rhubarb

Why is Rhubarb awesome for our gut?

Rhubarb is best known for its long reddish stalks and sour taste. It is more often cooked than eaten raw because of its sour taste. Only the stalks are eaten and you will most commonly see the addition of rhubarb in sweet soups, jams, sauces, pies, tarts, crumbles, cocktails, and rhubarb wine. Interestingly, this gut healthy vegetable has a history of being used medicinally in traditional Chinese medicine as a natural laxative to evacuate bowels and improve the digestive tract for centuries. Today, rhubarb's antioxidant compounds are being studied for management of GI and renal function disorders, and as an additional treatment option for hyperlipidemia, cancer, and acute ischemic stroke. However, sound clinical evidence for its use is lacking.

The deep ruby rhubarb color comes from anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants that provide your body anti-inflammatory properties. Although research is still ongoing and there is not enough to support its efficacy as a natural medicine, rhubarb extracts may aid in protecting our intestinal mucosal barrier and promote nutrient absorption in intestinal microbiota, helping them fluorish. Rhubarb may also have the function of regulating gastrointestinal motility disorders, increasing intestinal blood perfusion, clearing gastrointestinal oxygen free radicals, and eliminating inflammatory factors. Wow, now that is some amazing #goodgut plant benefits!

Furthermore, while the stalks are safe to eat, the leaves and roots are quite toxic due to a high concentration of oxalic acid, so avoid eating these parts of the vegetable. This plant provides a high fiber content and one cup contains 2.2 grams of fiber. It is also a rich source of vitamin K and provides 30% of the daily recommended value for adults. Due to its super sour and slightly sweet taste, this vegetable is rarely eaten raw, even though it is safe to consume. Instead of using granulated sugar to sweeten this vegetable, Married to Health recommends using agave or date syrup when cooking. Enjoy!

Ways to eat it

  • Jams and Jellies: Rhubarb is tart, which makes it an excellent pairing with sweet sauces, compotes, and jams

  • Cakes and Pies: Rhubarb make for a wonderful addition to baked goods

  • Soups and salads: The dynamic nature of rhubarb lends itself to both savory and sweet recipes

Here is a comprehensive list of potential rhubarb recipes for you to enjoy!

Recipe: Pickled Rhubarb

Ingredients (Makes 4 Servings):

  • 12 ounces rhubarb

  • 1 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar

  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

  • 1 star anise pod

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled


  1. Remove rhubarb peel in alternating 1/2-inch strips (creating stripes). Cut rhubarb into 4-by-3/4-inch pieces (if thick, halve or quarter lengthwise, then cut into 4-inch pieces).

  2. In a saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, salt, peppercorns, and star anise to a boil.

  3. Fill a heatproof quart jar with rhubarb and garlic.

  4. Pour boiling liquid into the jar and cover.

  5. Let cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 1 month

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How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Rhubarb. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://harvesttotable.com/how_to_grow_rhubarb/

Trowbridge Flippone, P. (n.d.). With Just a Little Know-How, You Can Enjoy Rhubarb Without Worry. The Spruce Eats. Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://www.thespruceeats.com/health-benefits-of-rhubarb-1807536

Why Is Rhubarb Red? (n.d.). Twin Cities Co-Op Partners. Retrieved March 15, 2021, from https://tccp.coop/article/why-is-rhubarb-red/

Why Shouldn’t You Eat Rhubarb Leaves? – The Chemistry of Rhubarb. (2015, April 16). Compound Interest. https://www.compoundchem.com/2015/04/16/rhubarb/

Xiang, H., Zuo, J., Guo, F., & Dong, D. (2020). What we already know about rhubarb: A comprehensive review. Chinese Medicine, 15(1), 88. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13020-020-00370-6

Zhang, L., Chen, J., Jiang, D., & Zhang, P. (2015). Adjuvant treatment with crude rhubarb for patients with systemic inflammation reaction syndrome/sepsis: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Journal of Critical Care, 30(2), 282–289. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrc.2014.11.008

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