Preserving, Pickling, and Canning Rhubarb

Rhubarb jam and fresh rhubarb stems
Canning rhubarb is possible in water bath canners and pressure canners. Rinse rhubarb stalks and macerate them in sugar for up to four hours. Boil the macerated rhubarb before adding it to sterilized canning jars. Process the jars in a water bath canner or pressure canner per canner type and elevation.

What is the Best Way to Preserve Rhubarb?

Rhubarb is a high-acid vegetable, making it safe for both water bath and pressure canning. However, the best way to preserve rhubarb is to process it in a water bath canner. Pressure canning exposes rhubarb to prolonged heat, which can break down cell walls resulting in a mushy texture.

Bowl of diced rhubarb with canning jars and a small bowl of sugar on a picnic table
Preparing rhubarb for canning

Step-by-Step Guide to Pressure Canning Rhubarb

The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends processing stewed rhubarb in a water bath canner or pressure canner, depending on your preference.

Follow the instructions below to safely pressure-can rhubarb:

  1. Select the best fresh rhubarb from your garden or farmer’s market. It should have crisp, bright pink stems.
  2. Gather enough rhubarb for canning. You’ll need 10½ pounds per 7-quart canner load or 7 pounds per 9-pint canner load.
  3. Remove the root ends and poisonous rhubarb leaves. Wash the stalks under cool running water. Use paper towels to dab off the excess water. Cut the rhubarb stalks into ½- or 1-inch pieces using a sharp knife.
  4. Put the chopped rhubarb in a large, non-reactive bowl, preferably made of stainless steel rather than aluminum. Sprinkle ½ cup of sugar for each quart of rhubarb and stir thoroughly.
  5. Place a tea towel over the bowl and leave the rhubarb to macerate for 30 minutes to 4 hours, depending on the moisture content and the amount of rhubarb. The sugar pulls rhubarb juice from the stalks to make rhubarb syrup.
  6. Once your rhubarb has macerated, get your home canning kit ready. Wash the lids, screw bands, and jars in hot soapy water. Rinse them with warm water.
  7. Cover the canning jars with water in a large pot and boil them for 10 minutes. This will sterilize the jars. Keep them hot in water until it’s time to fill them.
  8. Load a canning rack into your pressure canner and fill it with 2-3 inches of water. Boil the water and keep it at 180°F, ready for hot-packed rhubarb.
  9. Pour the macerated rhubarb with the syrup into a large saucepan and gently boil it. Stir the rhubarb as it cooks to prevent scorching.
  10. Ladle the hot, stewed rhubarb into the hot jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Ensure you fill each jar with equal amounts of solid rhubarb and liquid syrup.
  11. Use a bubble popper or plastic utensil to de-bubble the jars.
  12. Use dampened paper towels to wipe off the jar rims thoroughly. Place new canning lids on the jars and apply screw bands. Fasten the bands until they are fingertip tight.
  13. Use a jar lifter to load the jars into the pressure canner, ensuring the jars do not touch each other or the sides of the canner.
  14. Close the canner lid, leaving the vent open. Apply high heat under the canner for 20 minutes to bring it to a steady venting pace. Let it vent for 10 minutes.
  15. Fit an oven mitt into your hand and then close the steam vent. Let the canner pressurize to process the rhubarb per your canner type and altitude:

Processing times for hot-packed stewed rhubarb in a dial-gauge pressure canner:

Altitude (ft)0 – 2,0002,001 – 4,0004,001 – 6,0006,001 – 8,000
Pint jars (8 minutes)6 lbs7 lbs8 lbs9 lbs
Quart jars (8 minutes) 6 lbs7 lbs8 lbs9 lbs

Processing times for hot-packed stewed rhubarb in a weighted-gauge canner:

Altitude (ft)0 – 1,0001,001 +
Pint jars (8 minutes)5 lbs10 lbs
Quart jars (8 minutes)5 lbs10 lbs
  1. Process pint and quart jars for 8 minutes.
  2. Stop the heat and lift the canner onto a counter covered with thick kitchen towels. Let the canner cool and depressurize to zero with the vent closed. Leave it undisturbed for 5 minutes after depressurizing before opening the lid from the canner.
  3. Remove the jars from the canner using a jar lifter and place them apart on a counter lined with thick kitchen towels. Do not tighten the lids or tilt the jars.
  4. Air-cool the jars for 12-24 hours.
  5. Unfasten the screw bands and inspect the seals on the jars. Sealed jars will have stationary lids that do not flex up and down.
  6. Refrigerate and reprocess unsealed jars within 24 hours or refrigerate and use the contents within three days.
  7. Wipe the exterior of properly sealed jars and label them with the date of canning and contents. Store the labeled jars in a cool, dark, dry place.
Bowl of stewed rhubarb ready for canning with fresh rhubarb stalks in the background
Stewed rhubarb for canning

Can Rhubarb Be Water Bath Canned?

Since it is a high-acid food, stewed rhubarb or pickled rhubarb can be processed in a water bath canner. Pickling rhubarb enhances its tartness, and most home food preservation enthusiasts downplay this tartness by making pickled strawberry rhubarb. To make this version, simply add strawberries to the canning recipe for rhubarb.

Another way of enjoying water bath canned rhubarb is by making canned jelly using powdered pectin or Pomona’s pectin for a low-sugar version.

Strawberries, rhubarb stalks and jars of strawberry rhubarb jam on a picnic table
Strawberry rhubarb jam

What is the Difference Between Canning and Pickling Rhubarb?

Canning rhubarb involves hot packing it, while pickling rhubarb involves raw packing it into jars and pouring pickling brine over it. Both canned and pickled rhubarb can be processed in a pressure canner. However, the vinegar in pickled rhubarb also makes it safe to store in a refrigerator without canning.

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pickled rhubarb stalks in canning jars

Water Bath Canning Recipe for Pickled Rhubarb

  • Author: Alex
  • Total Time: 24 hours, 40 minutes


Follow these canning instructions for making easy pickled rhubarb in a water bath canner so you can enjoy rhubarb throughout the year!


  • 2 pounds rhubarb stalks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pickling salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 4 small whole-dried red chilis
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds


  1. Wash the rhubarb stalks using cold water. Cut the stalks into ½- or 1-inch pieces.
  2. Get your water bath canner ready. Place a canning rack inside it and fill it halfway with water.
  3. Sterilize the canning jars by boiling them for 10 minutes in fresh water. Keep them hot until filled.
  4. Combine sugar, water, apple cider vinegar, and pickling salt in a medium saucepan to make the pickling brine. Simmer them while whisking occasionally to dissolve all the salt and sugar.
  5. Pack the chopped rhubarb tightly into the hot jars. Add equal portions of the spices in each jar, if desired.
  6. Strain the brine and pour it in equal amounts into each pint jar, leaving 1-inch headspace.
  7. Remove bubbles with a de-bubbler.
  8. Wipe the jar rims and cover the jars with new lids and screw bands to finger-tip tightness.
  9. Heat the water bath canner to a rolling boil. Transfer the pickled rhubarb jars into the canner, ensuring boiling water covers the tops of the jars by 1-2 inches. Cover the canner with a lid.
  10. Process the jars for 10 minutes at elevations between 0 and 1,000 feet. Add 2 minutes to the canning time for every 1,000 feet in elevation.
  11. Turn the heat off and open the canner’s lid. Let the canner rest for 5 minutes, then remove the jars using a jar lifter, setting them on a countertop lined with towels.
  12. Let the jars cool to room temperature for 12-24 hours.
  13. Remove the ring bands and inspect the jar seals. Sealed jars have lids that do not flex up and down when pressed.
  14. Reprocess unsealed jars with new canning lids within 24 hours, or refrigerate them and consume the rhubarb in 3 days.
  15. Label and store all sealed jars of rhubarb in a cool, dry, dark place.
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cooling Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes

Is Freezing Rhubarb Better Than Canning It?

Canning rhubarb is much better than freezing it. Frozen rhubarb is challenging to store because it is bulky, while canned rhubarb is space-efficient.

However, if you prefer to freeze rhubarb, there are many methods for doing so. The best way is to blanch the rhubarb and freeze it raw without added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Frozen rhubarb lasts up to 12 months and can be used in rhubarb recipes such as ice cream, rhubarb jam, and strawberry rhubarb pies.

Here’s how to prepare rhubarb for freezing:

  1. Wash rhubarb stalks in cold water.
  2. Blanch the stalks for 1 minute in boiling water and shock them immediately in ice water for 2 minutes.
  3. Dry-pack the blanched rhubarb into airtight containers, leaving ½-inch headspace. Keep the containers in the freezer.
  4. Alternatively, flash-freeze the blanched rhubarb stalks for 1-2 hours in baking trays until firm. Then pack them into airtight freezer containers and keep them in the freezer.

How to Store Canned or Pickled Rhubarb

Canned or pickled rhubarb should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. Avoid keeping it close to heat and light sources. Maintain a storage temperature of 50°-70°F.

What is the Shelf Life of Canned Rhubarb?

Canned rhubarb and canned pickled rhubarb will last at least 12 months in a cool, dark, dry place. Uncanned pickled rhubarb has a shelf life of 2 months in the refrigerator.

Opened jars of canned rhubarb should be refrigerated and eaten within three days, while opened jars of pickled rhubarb should be refrigerated and consumed in fourteen days.


Alex has a farming background and cherishes growing, eating, and preserving his own food. He writes to share his homesteading experience with gardening and food preservation enthusiasts keen on canning and dehydration. When he is not writing, you'll find him tending to his vegetables and fruits or trying new recipes.

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