I have been making rhubarb chutney as long as I have been cooking. It is more than an condiment for Indian dishes – it can be added to sauces, meatloaves, dressings, dips and sandwiches. It is simple and quick to make, and takes care of all that surplus, if that is a problem, in a way that will preserve it for the months to come. I have not made it the same twice – the choice of spices is endless and it is worth trying different combinations. Starting with rhubarb, sugar and vinegar, just add whichever spices you fancy. Make it as spicy or sweet as you wish, and just follow your nose (the olfactory part that is).
The problem with my rhubarb is that it is not of the ‘pretty’ variety. The middle is green, and although it tastes as good as any, it makes the chutney brown. In this recipe, I attempted to make an appealing red colour, so I offer a few tips to achieve this, as well as a method to prevent overcooking the rhubarb which I think also detracts from its appearance.
In order to do this, I used forced rhubarb, a method I described in an earlier post. This is not necessary, but it did make a difference in the colour. Below is a picture of my freshly picked forced rhubarb. It really is a bit sweeter and more delicate than the grown-in-the light variety.
I also made a rhubarb custard pie with some of it, just to highlight the beautiful colour.
To reduce the cooking time of the rhubarb and prevent it from collapsing into a stringy sauce, I cooked all the other ingredients first and added the rhubarb just for the last few minutes.
I processed half the jars in boiling water for ten minutes, and this also had an effect on the colour, so if you want a really pink product, it’s best to seal in jars and store them in the freezer. I also used a red vinegar, namely one in which I infused red choke cherries, but I’m not sure this made a significant difference.
6 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups cider or red vinegar
3 red chili peppers
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 stick cinnamon
3 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp fennel
1 tsp salt
1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit)
Mix the sugar and rhubarb and allow to stand overnight or about 12 hours. Strain the syrup from the rhubarb and mix it with all the other ingredients. Cover the mixture with a tight fitting lid, bring it to a boil and simmer for about 1 hour. Remove the cinnamon stick and add the rhubarb. Continue to cook for a further 20 minutes or until the rhubarb is just soft but not disintegrating.
Makes 1.5 litres.
Linked to Fiesta Friday #172
Other rhubarb recipes: Rhubarb Ice Cream; Crabapple, Rhubarb and Ginger Jam; Sumac and Rhubarb Soup; Rhubarb and Berry Crisp; Spruce Tip Panna Cotta with Rhubarb Sauce; Wild Berry Tarts with Rhubarb Curd; Rhubarb Crabapple Ketchup