Rising gloriously out of the ground, our ruby red rhubarb speckled with tones of chartreuse and emerald green marries with the sweet fragrant mandarins, sultanas and cinnamon to produce a distinctive chutney. The humble rhubarb and its preserves, often taken for granted, will be overlooked no more, after just one teaspoon of this heady Rhubarb and Mandarin Chutney. Like a glistening jewel, it will excite and bring a fresh youthfulness to pork, duck and venison or your next ploughman’s lunch. Once prized as a luxury good of the Silk Road Route, its roots were used for their medicinal and laxative properties. It wasn’t until 1778, that it was first mentioned as a plant food by the French for making tarts and pies. In 18th Century England is was commonly referred to as the “pie plant” as it was often blended with other fruits as it was an inexpensive filler.
The rhubarb, in this recipe, is the hero. Its slight tartness creates its own lively personality to the chutney and your table. And, while its used as fruit, botanically, its classified as a vegetable. Enjoy and hail the hero!
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Quantity: 4 x 210 ml jars
Warm sterilised sealable glass jars and lids
500g tender rhubarb- preferably red
1/2 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
150 ml malt or cider vinegar
3.5 cm cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
100ml mandarin juice; approximately 2 medium juicy mandarins
200g white sugar
- Trim rhubarb to remove leaves. Wash to remove any blemishes,garden dirt or store debris and lightly dry with clean tea towel or paper towel.
- Cut into 2.5 cm lengths. If you cut the small pieces too, it will cook to a mush and produce a different jam texture.
- In a preserving pan, place chopped onions, vinegar, whole cloves and cinnamon stick.
- Bring to the boil and turn down immediately and simmer for 10 minutes or until onions have softened.
- While it's cooking, peel skin from the mandarin, remove any excess pith and shred peel.
- Add mandarin rind and juice, sugar and sultanas to the pan. Stir until sugar is dissolved and simmer 10 mins or until syrup has thickened.
- Add the rhubarb and cook gently, stirring carefully until the rhubarb is soft but has still retained its shape.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for approximately 10 minutes. Remove and discard the cloves and cinnamon stick.
- Stir gently to distribute the fruit and using a funnel, pour into warm dry sterilised screw cap sealable jars. Fill to approximately 2.5cm (1inch) from the top and seal using your preferred method.
- Label and store in a cool dark place in the kitchen or pantry.
- Allow chutney to mature for 4 weeks before eating.
- One opened store in the refrigerator and use within 2 months.
- Variations: Tangerine or orange can be used instead of mandarin.
- Choose ripe clean fruit. Do not use overripe and never use mouldy fruit as this will produce a poor-quality chutney.
- If you want a texture which has rhubarb pieces, do not cut rhubarb too small. It will cook too quickly and completely break down in the cooking process.
- Stir occasionally to prevent the chutney from sticking on the bottom of the pot. But not too often so the rhubarb doesn’t break down into its stringy fibres.
- Do not eat or feed the leaves to animals. Due to the high concentrations of oxalic acid and oxalates, eating may result in reactions. Rhubarb is cited as poisonous plant.