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Lacto-Fermented Rhubarb Chutney

It has been really fun to follow along with Erin’s look at Nourishing Traditions. I read that book almost five years ago now and it really changed the way I look at food, nourishment, and health.

Since then I have become a bit of a fermented food nut. We’ve dabbled in homemade yogurt, kefir, kombucha, water kefir, fermented vegetables, grains, and now I’ve jumped into the world of fruit. Well, technically rhubarb is a vegetable, but the raisins included are fruit.

The problem I have with rhubarb is not the vegetable itself but the gobs of sugar used in making it taste like something it isn’t – a super sweet fruit. Rhubarb has such a lovely sourness to it that just a bit of sweetening can really highlight the natural flavors instead of covering them up.

And in my quest to feed my family fermented foods every day I was hoping for something to add to breakfast. We like this in yogurt but I am thinking it would make a delicious topping to grain-free pancakes.

The one challenge with fruits is that their sugar can make them, well, a bit boozy after a while. So eat this stuff up within a week or two after fermenting before your raisins make wine :).

Lacto-Fermented Rhubarb Chutney


  • 2 cups diced rhubarb (about 3 medium stalks)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped pistachios or other chopped nut
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup whey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup water


  1. Place diced rhubarb in a quart jar. Run your knife through the raisins to break them up a bit and then add them to the quart jar along with the pistachios, sea salt, whey, cinnamon, and water.
  2. Mix very well with a spoon and then use the spoon (or your hand) to push the rhubarb mixture below the liquid level.
  3. Cover with the jar lid tightly and leave in a warm place for 2-5 days. Fermentation is an art more than a science, so check this every day to see if it has started to bubble and to be sure the liquid level is still covering the rhubarb.
  4. Once it is bubbly and tastes slightly fermented store it in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. Use in yogurt, on top of pancakes, or on top of protein or vegetables.

Show Comments


  • I, too, dislike using rhubarb when you have to add so much sweetner to it. We have enough junk food coming at us from all directions on a daily basis, that I don’t really like making the typical rhubarb fare, but I want to use it somehow. I may try lacto-fermenting for the first time with this! Can I safely cut the recipe in half? Or is it like canning where you have to not mess with it? I know I wouldn’t get though the whole jar before it got “boozy” :)

    jenny June 13, 2011 AT 12:57 pm
    • Jenny – I think it is safe to halve the recipe. As long as you have the same ratio of whey to other ingredients it should do fine.

      Shannon @ Nourishing Days June 13, 2011 AT 5:04 pm
      • Thanks! I’ll try it

        jenny June 13, 2011 AT 5:31 pm
  • I like lacto-fermentation recipes that use whey because I have a bunch of it in the back of the fridge! I have never tried a chutney before, although I have the recipes in Nourishing Traditions. I don’t have any rhubarb on hand, but I am definitely bookmarking this recipe. Have you tried making this strawberries and rhubarb?

    Jenna June 13, 2011 AT 4:50 pm
    • Not yet because we are just now getting strawberries in. I would definitely try substituting them for the raisins and then maybe omit the cinnamon. Yummy!

      Shannon @ Nourishing Days June 13, 2011 AT 5:05 pm
      • Thanks for this recipe! I’m eager to try a rhubarb dish without all the sugar, and fermented to boot! I’m going to make this tomorrow after I drain some whey from my kefir. Anyone tried it yet with strawberries? Why would you omit the cinnamon? The flavors do go well together… but maybe not with fermentation?

        Jeanne June 17, 2011 AT 9:27 am
  • This looks so good. I can’t wait to try it!

    Gabriella Iacobone June 13, 2011 AT 6:12 pm
  • Can you ferment this without whey? Currently one of my food allergies is whey so I have been fermenting with salt and would love to try this!

    Linnae June 14, 2011 AT 10:14 am
    • Linnae – I wish I had a definitive answer for you, but I don’t. I do a lot of vegetable ferments without whey and have no problems, but the high sugar content of fruit may prove a little trickier. Perhaps you could just up the salt content and give it a try.

      Shannon @ Nourishing Days June 15, 2011 AT 11:24 am
      • Thanks Shannon!! I will give it a try and let you know- I love experimenting with ferments!!

        Linnae June 15, 2011 AT 11:27 am
        • I tried this with a little extra salt and thought it turned out ok… its an interesting flavor. Im not sure how I feel about it yet, maybe because I tried a spoonful right out of the jar before I refrigerated it. I think I will need to try it alongside something else, it should pair well with pork chops I’m thinking.
          Oh- also I should note that I substituted sunflower seeds for the pistachios due to a nut allergy.

          Linnae June 20, 2011 AT 8:10 am
    • I’m allergic to dairy and have recently been eating this almond yogurt called Amande. I get the plain one that is not flavoured. I drain the whey off (some are more separated than other batches). I haven’t used it for fermenting yet but I imagine it would work.

      I also use the whey and yogurt to make dairy free mac and cheese (with rice noodles) and nutritional yeast. It’s pretty good, not as good as cheese, but decent.

      You could also make your own almond yogurt or any other sort of alternative yogurt and use that whey, or just make some whey by putting a capsule of probiotics in some water.

      subtle dawn May 9, 2013 AT 4:47 pm
  • I have another question – what kind of whey do you use? is there a powdered version or just any kind of whey – I usually have yogurt whey, and I recently started making milk keifer – could I use the liquid from that??

    jenny June 14, 2011 AT 11:56 am
    • Jenny – Definitely a fresh whey from yogurt or kefir – not powdered. The whey has cultures in it from the yogurt/kefir so it helps to start the fermentation process.

      Shannon @ Nourishing Days June 15, 2011 AT 11:24 am
  • Can I ferment this with just salt and no whey ?

    Debra June 14, 2011 AT 2:46 pm
    • Debra – See above.

      Shannon @ Nourishing Days June 15, 2011 AT 11:25 am
  • I am totally new to this fermenting idea, I am interested:) To make it even better I have lots of rhubarb:) Does the jar need a seal and how long is this good for in the fridge? Thanks for the post and all of goodness and encouragement available on the site!

    Nicki June 14, 2011 AT 9:41 pm
  • This looks great. I haven’t tried my hand at making chutneys before, mostly because I’ve never eaten them. I have a bunch of rhubarb needing to find a home in something good. Was going to make a cake, but like you said, it does take a lot of sugar that way. Will def. try this today or tomorrow!

    Therese - Artistta June 15, 2011 AT 1:40 pm
  • Ok, I am asking so many questions – sorry! I just made this and am confused. I’m doing the 1/2 batch in a wide-mouth pint canning jar. I’ve smashed the rhubarb down as much as I can but there are some bits that are still breaking the surface of the water. I think they are floating, because I added another TB or so of water. Does that matter? Maybe it’s because I’ve had the rhubarb cut up for a few days, covered in the refrigerator. I feel totally dumb for asking but I don’t want to poison myself!! :) Thanks

    jenny June 17, 2011 AT 2:03 pm
    • Jenny, I’ve learned from fermenting other things that this will usually be okay. But you can always weigh it down. I use a smaller jar that fits inside the wide mouth (like the size bullion comes in, or a Ball jelly jar) filled with water or pea stone.

      Jeanne June 18, 2011 AT 2:05 pm
  • Shannon – I want to try this, but would rather omit the pistachios until I’m sure the boys don’t have issues with nuts. Is there a reason besides flavor that you included them? Thanks!

    Ann June 28, 2011 AT 6:14 am
  • Hello, I tried this recipe because it sounds so yummy. We love rhubarb and have tons this year. Problem is that the top is covered with a powdery mold and no bubbles. I have a mold allergy and I’m afraid to mess with it. Is this common? What did/or didn’t I do that may have caused this? THanks!

    Sharon June 29, 2011 AT 5:29 am
  • I wanted to let you know how this turned out. I didn’t see any bubbles, so I left it on the counter for 4 or 5 days. Yesterday there were discs of white mold all over the top. I scooped off the top layer and gave it a good sniff; it smelled and tasted fine, so I had some on yogurt, and put the rest into a Tupperware in the fridge to slow down the fermentation process.

    It was strange to taste rhubarb without the sugar — strange, but good! The nuts added some delicious crunch, and the raisins added “enough” sweetness. I’ll be eating this for the next week as part of breakfast. Thanks for the recipe!

    leukothea June 29, 2011 AT 12:16 pm
    • you got mold because the veggies were not completely under the liquid. you did the right thing. scape it off…. fill the jar to the top with the brine solution.

      cINDY May 22, 2013 AT 3:57 pm
  • I have a brand new product which is very useful in lacto fermented vegetables made in a jar.
    They are weights made of glass that fit into the top of the canning jar that help hold the veggies under the brine solution.
    I have them listed on Ebay, just search for ‘lacto ferment glass jar weights’.

    Richard Washburn August 26, 2011 AT 11:12 am
  • In Wardeh’s book on fermenting she has a recipe similar to this, but using sunflower seeds. I made it. Like above comments, it is a different non-sweet way to use rhubarb. I use fido or Pickle-It jars with weights, so haven’t seen any mold development. Because of this post – – I ferment my stuff longer than 3-7 days, closer to a month, and then rejar in canning jars. I have the BPA free reusable canning lids and seal them with the rechargeable FoodSaver, and then ether refrigerate or put in cold cellar. So far so good. What’s hardest is getting used to putting them on the table and getting used to eating fermented foods daily!

    Karey Swan July 30, 2012 AT 11:26 am
  • i think my town chlorinates its water, will that stop my chutney from working? I did boil the water first hoping to get rid of some of the chlorine but i read that no longer works

    kathleen jackson May 14, 2013 AT 8:24 pm
  • I made this recipe this week and am new to fermenting…mine isn’t bubbly and molded on the top, is it bad?

    Joanne May 17, 2013 AT 9:06 am
    • what color is the mold??

      cINDY May 22, 2013 AT 3:54 pm
  • When fermenting you do not have to use whey. the salt brine ferments all by itself. With fresh vegetable from your garden don’t over wash because you will wash all the good bacteria away. check out you tube people are posting all kinds of videos on fermented veggies. Don’t forget to ferment those cukes for the best cultered pickles ever.

    cINDY May 22, 2013 AT 3:43 pm
  • you must keep your veggies pressed down under the liquid when fermenting or you will get mold. certain jars shapes work better than others. I use a plastic top from some small tupperware to hold the veggies down.If your jar is straight all the way to the top this does not work but you can hold the plastic down with a clean rock as well. Keep in mind this is if you use quart size jars or small. Mayo jars work great if the are wide at the bottom and get smaller at the opening. Hope that helps

    cINDY May 22, 2013 AT 3:49 pm
  • I also keep my lids tightened down and then release them to let the pressure escape so the jars don’t burst. I like to always add carrots to all my fermenting for the sugar content. You can run into issues if the weather is over 90 degrees.just keep checking your jars more often It is not humid where I live either so not sure about that.

    cINDY May 22, 2013 AT 3:53 pm
  • I’m going to try this recipe with strawberries and ripe water kefir (instead of whey), due to a dairy allergy. We’ll see how it turns out.

    Nick June 17, 2013 AT 10:57 am
  • I would keep the lid off, push the ferment below the liquid 2-3 times a day.

    Beth June 25, 2013 AT 6:53 am
  • And I would make sure it is filtered water as chlorine can prevent fermentation.

    Beth June 25, 2013 AT 6:54 am
  • Is salt, or the recommended amount of salt, necessary? I’m on a salt restricted / no salt diet.

    Lee May 3, 2015 AT 11:25 am
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