Do you know what Barbara Kingsolver calls the “first fruit of the season”?
Along with asparagus, it’s one of spring’s earliest crops to push through the earth and burst into bountiful harvest. And thankfully, it sticks around for another month or two. I, for one, celebrate its longevity.
Every year my kitchen and freezer overflow with goodies. Classic rhubarb crisp, rhubarb cookies, rhubarb bread, rhubarb jam, rhubarb marshmallows… I’ve got an entire Pinterest board dedicated to rhubarb!
And yet, my favorite way to eat it isn’t in a dessert. When confronted with an army of volunteer rhubarb plants in my garden one year, I discovered rhubarb salsa.
It. Is. Scrumptious. Tart, spicy, sweet, and addictive.
I now stash tortilla chips in the house so my husband and I can dig in at a moment’s notice. 😉
Now, unless you have a greenhouse and plant your peppers über early, there’s no way to make this recipe entirely from seasonal, fresh ingredients. I chop and freeze the peppers when they’re ready in late summer and then toss them in the food processor as the recipe calls for –OR– freeze the rhubarb and make this recipe in late summer when peppers and onions are in season. Since we’re going for a slushy, chunky texture, frozen peppers work fine.
Oh, and don’t skimp on the ginger or the honey in this recipe, as they make the flavor of the rhubarb really shine.
Makes approximately 2½ cups.
- zest from 1 orange
- 7 to 8 stalks rhubarb, coarsely chopped (a generous 2 cups)
- 2 to 3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- ½ small yellow onion, finely diced
- ½ small red onion, finely diced
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
- ½ green bell pepper, diced
- ½ cup raw honey
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup fresh whey OR sauerkraut brine (optional)
- Soften the rhubarb for 10 to 15 minutes by simmering it in a few tablespoons of water over medium heat.
- Remove the rhubarb when it begins to fall apart, and place it in a blender, food processor, or large bowl.
- Add all remaining ingredients and blend together until a chunky puree is formed. (If you’re working by hand, just toss everything together well.)
- Adjust seasonings.
- To ferment, if desired, stir the whey or sauerkraut brine into the salsa, then spoon into a quart-sized Mason jar.
- Let sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 days, then store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 weeks.
- While this salsa can be eaten immediately, it does taste significantly better if let sit for a few days, so let it sit if you have the time.
Do you love rhubarb? Have you ever made rhubarb salsa?
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