I’m not proud to admit to this behavior, but I await the arrival of rhubarb like a spoiled child anticipating the reckless ripping open of presents on Christmas Day. Once I spot the season’s first stalks, my eyes widen, visions of its culinary gifts whirl in my head, and my normally generous demeanor takes a turn toward greedy. For the brief few weeks that this tart plant graces my garden, I brazenly grab as much as I possibly can. The stalks get dissected into chunks, some of which go into jams and jellies, others into muffins and cobblers, and still others into pies. And when I tire of all this sweetness, the rest (which is still more than most people consume in a year) gets turned into this savory chutney, a recipe I developed for Sauce magazine. If I’m lucky, its tang lasts me throughout the summer, adding verve to all of my grilled meats.
Yield: About six 8-ounce jars
Prep Talk: Because the jars do not undergo processing in boiling water, they must be stored in the refrigerator at all times. For best eating, allow the flavors to meld for a week or so.
- 1 3/4 pounds fresh rhubarb, leaves and ends trimmed off, stalks cut in 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 1/3 cups), divided
- 1 1/4 pounds Granny Smith apples (3 to 4 apples), cored and coarsely diced
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup dried currants
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 1/4 cups cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup apple juice or cider
- 3/4 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic (about 2 to 3 cloves)
- 2 teaspoons peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely minced orange zest (about 1/2 orange)
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 3/4 teaspoon ground Cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 | Discard (or compost) the rhubarb leaves and ends. Toss together 3/4 pound of the chopped rhubarb stalks and the apples, raisins, currants, and onion in a large bowl.
2 | Seal the remaining 1 pound rhubarb in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
3 | In another bowl, combine the vinegar, apple juice or cider, brown and granulated sugars, and all the remaining ingredients. Whisk well and then pour over the rhubarb mixture. Stir to evenly coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture marinate at least 8 hours in the refrigerator.
4 | Drain the rhubarb mixture, reserving half of the marinade. Transfer the rhubarb mixture and reserved marinade to a large (4- to 5-quart) stainless steel or non-reactive pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring regularly, until the rhubarb pieces have reduced to a thick sauce, about 25 minutes. Add the reserved 1 pound rhubarb and continue to cook until those pieces are soft, but still hold their shape, another 7 to 10 minutes.
5 | Remove the pan from the heat, and let the rhubarb mixture cool completely.
6 | Sterilize and dry six 8-ounce canning jars. Ladle the cooled chutney into the jars and seal tightly. Store in the refrigerator up to one month, or in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.