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Archive for October 4th, 2010

I recently bought some late rhubarb on our market, put it in the fridge and promptly forgot about it!  A week or so later I discovered it in a rather floppy state and not really fit for stewing and eating in the usual way.  In ancient times food that was past its best was disguised with spices so I turned to my recipe books and eventually found this chutney recipe.  The acidity of the rhubarb along with the citrus sourness of the orange means that, in spite of the sugar, this is still rather a tart flavoured chutney and would go well with a rich or oily meat such as duck or pork, or possibly even with an oily fish such as mackerel (I once saw a recipe for mackerel with a rhubarb sauce).   My only comment – one which I actually made out loud as I spooned this chutney into jars – is that this is yet another muddy coloured chutney.  A commercially produced version would have some added food colouring to make it a pretty pinky-peach, I would imagine.  Colour aside, though, this is definitely worth making.

The recipe comes from Home Preserves by Jackie Burrow which has been on my shelf for some years and contains a wealth of good recipes.  I have slightly adapted the original recipe for Spiced Rhubarb & Orange Chutney: I was a little short of rhubarb to make a half quantity so I added some chopped apple and I used grated fresh (but frozen) ginger in place of ginger powder.  I also zested the orange rather than peeling the zest off in larger chunks with a potato peeler (just the zest, but no pith).  I have added these alternatives to the recipe below.  My only other comment would be that the ginger could be slightly increased (although we do like a strong ginger flavour, so be careful).

Warning: Do not try to make a double batch in one pan.  Reducing the extra liquid will be difficult and leaving it to cook down for a long time could lead to the sugars burning.  I speak from experience!  I apply this rule to all home made jams and chutneys: nothing worse than a bitter burnt flavour lurking in the background.  I find using the widest saucepan I have gives the biggest surface area for the quick evaporation of liquid.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Spiced Rhubarb & Orange Chutney
(Makes about 5 x 1lb)

1½kg/3lb rhubarb, chopped
   (replace up to 375g/12ozs rhubarb with peeled & finely chopped apple)
500g/1lb onion, peeled & finely chopped
4 large oranges, zested & squeezed
1tbsp mixed spice
2tbsp finely grated fresh root ginger (slightly defrosted grates easier)
   or
1tbsp ground ginger
1tsp salt
600ml/1pint white wine vinegar
500g/1lb white sugar (or brown)

1.  Place the rhubarb and onion in a large saucepan, plus apple if using, along with the zest and juice, mixed spice, ginger, salt and vinegar.

2.  Bring to the boil on a medium heat, then reduce the heat.  Allow the mixture to slowly reduce, stirring regularly, until it is thick enough to leave a channel (that gradually disappears again) in the bottom of the pan when a spoon is drawn across.

3.  Add the sugar and stir well.  Cook on a medium heat to allow the chutney to reduce as quickly as possible without burning, stirring regularly to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  When the channel can be drawn on the bottom of the pan once more it is ready to pot.

4.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.

5.  Pot into the prepared jars.  Cool and label.  Ideally, store for about four weeks to mature before eating.

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