Rhubarb: how do I relish thee?
I grew up eating lots of great fruit: the sweetest, juiciest mangoes – so good I’d keep gnawing on the pit long after all the flesh was eaten in the hope I’d uncover just one last pocket of flavor; succulent and fragrant plums and pawpaw that needed just a squeeze of lemon to make them into the perfect desert. All this and yet I never had a single piece of rhubarb, as far as I can remember. I don’t think this was just because I don’t remember (though I do admit to being the kind of girl who sometimes had her head so far into a fantasy book that there was a lot about the real world around her that she didn’t notice….) In this case though, I think that there just wasn’t any rhubarb in the South Africa of my childhood. And when I arrived in the states I spent a number of years ignoring them, they just looked like weirdly colored celery stalks, who needs that.
Since I’ve discovered the rhubarb though I’m trying to make up for lost time… just this week it was Strawberry Rhubarb ice-cream and today I’m posting my creation for the May tigress can jam challenge. This month Sarah from Toronto Tasting Notes gave us not one, but two secret ingredients to choose from – rhubarb of course, and my other spring favorite, asparagus. I totally meant to can some of each but I ran out of time – I still intend to put up a batch of asparagus pickles, though I am sure when the can jam roundup is published I will be inspired to try other asparagusy creations – maybe its a good thing I’m waiting to see what everyone else is making!
I decided on a rhubarb ginger chutney, turning again to one of my favorite canning books: Mary Anne Dragan’s Well Preserved. I liked the accompanying recipes which used the relish in a rhubarb walnut loaf. But when I tasted what I had made it was immediately clear to me that this chutney would really shine as a condiment served with my first BBQ burgers of the season. Its got a great sour tang and gingery spice that makes eating it by the spoonful a surefire way to get special wrinkles around your eyes and mouth! I immediately took the beef out the freezer (I still have a good amount left from the December stocking up I did on grass-fed beef, I guess the fact that there is a lot left speaks well to my attempts to eat less meat). When I made the burgers the next night they were perfect (I’ll have to share my secret recipe and photos of these soon, though this round was eaten to fast to be photographed), and the sweet tangy rhubarb relish is, as expected, an ideal accompaniment. I rounded out the meal with some duck fat smashed potatoes from fellow NYC blogger Norecipes – which I highly, highly recommend.
Rhubarb and Ginger Chutney – from Mary Anne Dragan’s Well Preserved
Yield: 7-8 half pint jars.
- 8 c. rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ dice
- 2 c. finely chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 c. brown sugar
- 2 c. apple cider vinegar
- 1 c. raisins
- 2/3 c. grated ginger
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp mustard seed
- 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground clove
Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to boil over med-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 35-40 minutes.
Remove from the heat and ladle into hot, sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/2 headroom. Seal and process for 10 minutes in a water bath.