Friday, July 12, 2013

rhubarb here, rhubarb there, rhubarb chutney everywhere

I've been going a little rhubarb nuts lately. Rhubarb syrup for lemonades and cocktails, rhubarb upside down cakes made in the cast iron skillet, strawberry-rhubarb frozen yogurt in my new ice cream maker. Fun fact about rhubarb: yes, the leaves are poisonous, but you'd have to eat five kilograms of leaves to reach a lethal dosage of oxalic acid.

For my first canning project of the year, I chose a rhubarb chutney, from the awesome Food in Jars, via Food 52. Chutneys are a South Asian condiment that usually contain fruit or vegetable mixed with spices - there's hundreds of varieties. North American chutney is usually fruit based, cooked down with vinegar and sugar, and a mixture of spices. The problem I've had with chutney in the past is what the heck do you do with all that chutney? Many cookbooks are quick to suggest serving it with meat, but vegetarian ideas? Here's a list I've come up with:

1. Obviously, a cheese plate! Chutney goes great on a crostini with brie or camembert. 

2. Grilled Cheese! Spread a spoonful of chutney on an aged cheddar grilled cheese.

3. With greens! Hearty sautéed greens, like kale or swiss chard taste great finished off with a spoonful of chutney. 

4. In a glaze! Use it as a sauce to glaze roasted or grilled vegetables. 

5. At a BBQ! Chutney is an awesome condiment for all manner of veggie burgers (and meat burgers.)

Now that I've convinced you, go make some chutney! As a note, I've also made Food in Jars Apple-Pear Chutney from her cookbook, which is also amazing.

Rhubarb Chutney
This recipe makes only 3 half-pints, so if I've convinced you that you're going to love chutney, and you've got room on your shelves, you should double it. 

4 cups sliced rhubarb (around 1 pound)
1 cup minced onion
3/4 cup raisins
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp red chili flakes

Combine everything in a wide pot, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to simmer. Cook until the rhubarb breaks down, and the chutney is thickened, stirring regularly. It should take 20 to 30 minutes.

If you want to can this recipe, process for 10 minutes in a water bath. Otherwise, it will keep in the fridge for a few weeks, or the freezer for 6 months.

The last word? You can never have too much rhubarb.

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