This summer’s umbrella food project has been canning. I’m on a sour cherry mission, but more on that later. The first project was to handle 10 glorious pounds of free rhubarb that we towed back from Massachusetts. I maintain that it was entirely reasonable for me to park the rhubarb in the back seat w/ the small fry, the puplette, and a cooler full of Mom’s eggs, and drive everything back home to Illinois. It’s nice to have so many of my favorite things in such close proximity! (It’s also nice that the better half was willing to do the bulk of the driving, when my delicate constitution just could not handle it…but again, another story/another time).
So I fooled with the idea of making a bunch of pies, perhaps a crisp, maybe a cobbler…but none of those really did it for me. Then I strolled on over to Food In Jars, where I discovered a rhubarb chutney recipe that looked equal parts bizarre and delicious. We eat about a metric ton of Indian food at our house, in no small part b/c it is a fine medium for stuffing the small fry w/ healthy food. Cauliflower? Check! Lentils? Check! Spinach? Check! And really, at least in my view, it’s not a full-on Indian meal unless there are condiments. So rhubarb chutney it was.
So this was my first canning project after last year’s lollipop-textured marmalade, so I was slightly crazy-eyed about getting it right. Turned out that it wasn’t so hard, really, since I didn’t need to worry about either under- or over-gelling.
The bulk of the work for this recipe was the chopping. Other than that, it was easy-shmeezy. I used my cheapy mandoline for the onions, which saved some time and some tears. While I was chopping, I sterilized my jars and lids and kept everything warm in their respective pots.
I’ve yet to figure out if it’s okay to use a non-stick coated pot for jamming, but that’s what I did for this recipe. It worked just fine.
Here’s the recipe, w/ some minor revisions from the original(s)
from The New York Times Heritage Cook Book by Jean Hewitt (547), via Food in Jars
Yield: 5-6 pints
9 c. sliced rhubarb
6 c. sliced onion
2 c. raisins (I used plain, but I bet golden would be nice)
7 c. brown sugar (I used dark, the recipe calls for light…it’s a lot of sugar but it works out in the end)
4 c. cider vinegar
2 T. salt
2 t. cinnamon (I was wary of the cinnamon, as we don’t always get along, but it was lovely)
2 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. cayenne pepper (you could go more, as mine wasn’t too spicy)
Combine everything into your big pot. Food in Jars recommended not using cast iron, as the vinegar strips off the seasoning. Bring everything to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer. Simmer on low until the mixture is somewhat thickened, about 45 minutes. I like my chutney on the smoother side, so went for the full 45. FIJ suggests a shorter time if you want to keep some of the integrity of the rhubarb. While it cooks, STIR, STIR, STIR. Scorching jam-like-things is such an incredible drag.