Rhubarb Fool(s)

Rhubarb fermented with ginger and cardamom

A few days ago I was having tea with my dear friend Vicki, and she was telling me about a meal she cooked recently for her family. That is what we foodies do—talk about food. Sometimes it is recent meals, sometimes the amazing vegetables growing in our garden and how we will prepare them. Yes, I admit that it's strange, sitting around talking about good food while sipping tea and secretly competing to see who can make the other more hungry.

“...and I made a rhubarb fool for desert.”

“Whoa, hold on, what pray tell is a rhubarb fool?” I interrupted.

“You have never heard of a rhubarb fool? It is a simple old style desert. I think it is from England. You take rhubarb that has only been slightly cooked, just simmered soft, but not so soft that it falls apart. When that has cooled you fold it into whipped cream.”

I confess that whipped cream might just be one of my favorite pleasures, next to butter. (hmmm a theme...is this the place to admit that buying our first dairy cow was all about the cream. We shamelessly named her ‘Buttercup’.)

Christopher happened to be out of town this week, not that he wouldn’t support what happened that night at dinner, but it makes a better story. I came home with visions of fool and told the kids all about it and made the executive decision we would eat a few leftovers before having the rhubarb fool for dinner.

As I was dashing down the hill, paring knife in hand, to our massive rhubarb plant, Dmitri said. “Don’t you dare ferment it.”

“Oh I won’t I assured him.” I knew I wouldn’t tonight, but I would bring some extra stalks with me and see what would happen. I had fermented rhubarb before but this time I was looking for a different flavor.

The ferment-free fool was amazing and our fool bellies were so full it was embarrassing, especially when Christopher called.

Here is a recipe for the rhubarb that I fermented.

Fermented Rhubarb infused with Ginger and Cardamom

1 pound (about 3 1/2 cups) rhubarb stalks, sliced
1 scant teaspoon pink salt, Himalayan or Redmond Real Salt from Utah, these salts have a higher mineral content and are sweeter
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Placed 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 quart jar.

When the brine is above the rhubarb weight it down and allow to ferment on your counter for four to five days.

This on on its own makes a tasty condiment. However I was determined to make a 'fooled-you' rhubarb fool.

"Fooled-you" Lacto-fermented Rhubarb Fool


Last night the rhubarb was deliciously fermented, strawberries and cream were purchased. I began to put together my vision of a fermented rhubarb fool. My children begged me not to mess with the known dessert–in the spirit if it ain't broke don't fix it.  

"At least try it in a small amount first." 

"That's not how I roll." It always throws them off when I use their slang. 

I placed one cup of the above fermented rhubarb in the food processor with two cups of fresh strawberries and 3 tablespoons of sugar. I processed this and grated in the zest of one lemon. I then whipped a pint of heavy cream.

Instead of folding in this strawberry-rhubarb sauce I layered it like a parfait.

It looked great. The same aforementioned children, remembering their full fool bellies, asked if we could eat dessert first. We did while the lasagna waited.

Two interesting things happened.

The kids loved it and apologized for doubting me. The other thing is our bellies were happier. The fermented rhubarb was lighter on our digestion. We all enjoyed our lasagna and there was no groaning with tight bellies when we left the table.