1 October 2012

Small batch chutney making : Spiced Rhubarb Chutney

Ever since Ruby our rhubarb plant, started to get really (no, really) big, hubby has been saying "we should make some rhubarb chutney".

Now I had a go at it, waaay way back when, which wasn't all that successful.  It tasted fine at the time, but I always know when something hasn't been as successful as it first seemed, because a) nobody eats it beyond the first day and b) nobody asks for it again.

So I'd been on the lookout for an "interesting" rhubarb chutney, but to no avail.  Everything just seemed like ordinary chutney, or was a "something else and rhubarb chutney", which would meant that the rhubarb took a back seat instead of being the star of the show.

Rhubarb, shallots, vinegar & spice - just starting to cook
As the year progressed, I was running out of time.  Ruby had burgeoned and been cropped twice and her growing year was coming to an end.  Then, sudden high winds overnight (no chortling, please - not THAT kind of "high winds"), left her battered, bruised and in desperate need of cropping.  Oddly, her daughter (Ruby 2) was left untouched by the gusty conditions, so we've got more rhubarb to come yet.

Cooking down and smelling amazing!

Hubby took the mighty kitchen knife and went out there last week and cropped a vast amount of rhubarb from Ruby.  We gave huge amounts to a neighbour and kept a small mountain for ourselves.  So far, that mountain has made this Spiced Rhubarb Chutney and a delicious Spiced Rhubarb Fool (yes, I'm big on spice at the moment).

I have no idea what to do with the remainder of the mountain, except make some more chutney, perhaps!

You see, this chutney is good.  No, it's very good.  The rhubarb is, without doubt, the star of the show and the mixed spice has served to warm it up beautifully.  The combination of the shallot, garlic and cider vinegar has had an amazing effect upon the tang and sharpness of the rhubarb.  Instead of being rendered a savoury version of a rhubarb jam, this is very definitely a tastebud tingler of a chutney.

The recipe had been in my hands all along.  I'd been given a book - The Complete Book of Preserving by Marye Cameron-Smith - a long time ago, by the lovely Laura Cousins.  I'd looked through it at the time, but it has since sat on the shelf doing nothing.  So when faced with a mountain of rhubarb, my thoughts became rather more focused and I suddenly remembered the book.  A quick peek inside led me to the Rhubarb Chutney recipe, which was so simple it just begged to be made.

It is, however, a very British chutney.  It's not the kind of chutney that you would have alongside a curry, for instance.  It is very definitely best with some salty, strong cheddar cheese - and in fact, when taste testing this batch (before it was cold, even), we'd got through a good percentage of our block of cheese.  Yup, it was that good.  I'm sure it would be fabulous with a pork pie, or some sausage rolls, too.

Because we don't have oodles of empty jars, nor oodles of empty cupboard space for the filled jars, I went for the "small batch" approach, in the same way as my jam making.  Being just a scaled-down version of the original recipe which made 6 pounds of the stuff (yes, I had to get the calculator out - my maths just isn't up to being able to work those sorts of sums out - and even then, I had to ask how many grams there was in a kilo), I saw no reason why it shouldn't work - and it did.

Next time, I'm going to make rather more and - ssssh! Don't tell! - use them as Christmas presents for those people who have everything and you just can't think of what to get them.  As hubby commented, well, money can buy just about everything - but it won't buy you this chutney!

Oh, and as a "cook's note" - I used the ultra-deliciously-gorgeous Maille Cider Vinegar.  If you should decide to have a go at this one, I heartily recommend you use it too - and why not have a teaspoonful neat while you're at it.  Your saliva glands will go into overdrive, but it's an experience that just has to be sampled.  I drink it by the tablespoonful now, as it seems to do good things for my arthritis.

SPICED RHUBARB CHUTNEY  (makes one large jarful)

Ingredients :

230g fresh rhubarb, sliced
38g shallot, sliced finely
a tiny grate of garlic (one third of a clove and no more!)
1 heaped teaspoonful of mixed spice
pinch of sea salt
85ml cider vinegar
85g granulated sugar.

Method :

1.  Into a small stainless steel pan, put the rhubarb, shallot, garlic, spice, salt and half the vinegar.

2.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the rhubarb is very soft.  I added a teensy tablespoonful of water as my rhubarb was resisting softening and the pan was running out of juice.

3.  Add the sugar and remainder of the vinegar and stir gently until chutney has thickened.

4.  Decant into a container and leave to cool.

Store in the fridge.

Printable version


  1. As you say -This chutney would be perfect with any curry!! I would also have it in my sandwiches.

    1. Mina, what I actually said was that it wasn't the type of chutney to have with a curry! LOL Although I can confirm that putting it in a cheese sandwich is perfect. :)

  2. I can see rhubarb chutney in my future! Thanks for all the great rhubarb dishes - just fab. Cheers


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