21 April 2015
Forget onion jam - here comes Rhubarb & Apple Relish!
With rhubarb leaping out of the ground in abundance (well, it is in our garden), you might be looking for something new to do with it - and this relish is a thing of rare beauty that deserves to be made.
My hubby is going through a bit of a purple patch with regard to cooking at the moment. He's bored rigid with cooking dinners, but interesting little challenges like making a relish out of our gorgeous rhubarb still have the capacity to fire him up. We were discussing what to eat for the week (also known as "making the menu plan") and had decided to go for a Ploughman's Lunch (or Ploughman's Dinner, as it shall be). Now of course, a Ploughman's requires some tasty pickle or another. "Perhaps piccalilli?", said hubby. "Or, or - rhubarb chutney!" he amended, with obvious keenness.
Well that was it. He was out in the garden, laying waste to the nearest rhubarb, before I could say "great idea!".
The end result is truly one of those pickles/preserves that you taste at a Farmer's Market and think "I'll never be able to afford some of that", before finding out that a small jar costs about a million quid. Here, you wind up with about four times the amount, for a fraction of the price. I think that probably, the most expensive item was either the sugar, vinegar or ginger (presuming you've got the rhubarb in the garden already), but if you've a well stocked larder you may well find that you can come up with the ingredients without a trip to the shops.
In fact, we've tried it on chicken sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, cheese with biscuits, tinned mackerel, off a teaspoon and of course as part of the aforesaid Ploughman's. In every context it has been flipping gorgeous.
I have no Cook's Notes for you, as there are so few instructions - just put it all in a pot and cook - there is very little that can go wrong! Just don't overheat it and allow it to burn.
Oh and incidentally, if you're wondering what makes it a relish instead of a chutney, a relish is a chutney that isn't made to be able to store for long periods. For this little lovely to be a relish is absolutely 100% appropriate, as I doubt it is going to stay in our fridge for very long at all.
RHUBARB & APPLE RELISH (Makes a large (12oz) jar or around 2 cups)
250g rhubarb, chopped into 1 inch chunks
250g soft dark brown sugar
125ml good quality cider vinegar (Aspall's is great)
200g Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into half inch chunks
100g onion, chopped
20g stem or crystallised ginger, finely chopped
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
half a tsp of sea salt
a pinch of dried red chilli flakes - to taste
pinch of ground cloves
half a tsp of allspice
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg.
1. Put everything in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour - stirring regularly - until the relish is good and thick.
2. Pour into a sterilised jar (or jars), seal and leave to cool.
Refrigerate, the relish will keep for approximately 1 month.