Sunday, April 12, 2020

Rhubarb chutney!

The exclamation mark in the heading is because this is the first time I've made any kind of preserve since around 2005, when we were still in Farm Road. But both Jonathan and I are very keen on home made chutney. Usually I pick up jars of it at various fairs. One day I asked the nice lady who sold jams and chutneys at the little Karori Sunday market if she ever made kasundi, a delicious Indian chutney I'd found at the big annual Save the Children fair at Homewood. A couple of weeks later she turned up with two different kinds, tomato and eggplant. But with no fairs and no markets, we were running very low.

On the phone to Lesley, I talked about wanting to try making some chutney, but not having any handy surplus produce to make it with. She pointed out that I did: I had my magnificent set of four rhubarb crowns in a big pot. The originals were given to me by Ali some years ago. They somehow managed to survive my inconsistent, cack-handed care, and this year all four are flourishing better than ever.

I hunted around on line and found various recipes, but I wanted something I knew would work. My Auckland friend Rosemary, who regularly embarks on chutney and pickle making, passed on her recipe, so I used that. It's different from the others because you don't put the sugar in until near the end of the cooking, but I could see why: doing it this way makes the mixture less likely to catch and burn.

Rosemary’s rhubarb and ginger chutney
Slightly adapted, and with two quantities, depending on how much fruit you have. I think it would also work well using some firm pears or nashi. For the smaller quantity, I used about 10 sticks of rhubarb weighing around 700g, four small apples, and one and a half large onions. 

1 ½  (3) apples
1 ½  (3) onions
15 (30) g root ginger
1 (2) cloves garlic
750 (1.5) kg rhubarb
½ (1) tsp paprika
1 (2) tsps whole pickling spice
1½ (3) tsps salt
¾ (1½) cups white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1/4  (½) cup balsamic vinegar (I used a bit more than this – it needed a little more at the end)
juice of ½ (1) orange
1½ (3) cups sugar (I used half white and half brown)
  1. Assemble jars and lids and get them ready to use for short-term keeping. The easiest way is to put jars through a hot machine wash, and boil metal lids gently in large pan of water for 5 minutes. (Check methods here.
  2. Peel, core and chop the apples. Peel and chop the onions. Dice the ginger and garlic (easy to chop these together in the food processor).
  3. Slice the rhubarb thinly (I used the processor slicing blade).
  4. Put all the ingredients except the sugar in a large pan and simmer until thick and pulpy. 
  5. Add the sugar, turn up the heat, and cook until thick and darker in colour, stirring frequently to stop it catching (especially if it's a small quantity). Also check flavour and adjust if necessary. (This is quite a jammy chutney, but should still have a bit of texture.)
  6. Fill the jars almost to the top with no gaps, and put the lids on firmly. With any luck, the lids will go down in the middle to seal them. But to be on the safe side, keep the jars in the fridge - they will keep perfectly well for at least a few weeks. 
 Mine all cooked right down to make just 3 jars (not very large ones) plus a small bowl of chutney to have with sausages for our dinner - and it really was good.

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