Some people are like ants. Give them a warm day and a piece of ground and they start digging. There the similarity ends. Ants keep on digging. Most people don’t. They establish contact with the soil, absorb so much vernal vigor that they can’t stay in one place, and desert the fork or spade to see how the rhubarb is coming and whether the asparagus is yet in sight. ~ Hal Borland
Around this time of year my fingers get twitchy and I can’t wait to start digging.
The seed catalogs have arrived, and this year’s gardening resolutions have been set (I will absolutely weed more often this July).
The garden and flower beds are still buried under at least a foot of snow, but I know that next month the rhubarb be exposed and not long after will start to bud.
It’s an unlikely plant to inspire such hope and expectation, but such a productive addition to any garden. Once established, the perennial plant will return each year, requiring little maintenance.
It thrives in cooler climates like mine (a zone 5), and the more you pick it, the more it grows.
What’s not to love?
This past year I’ve started using this – vegetable? fruit? – more and more.This Apple Rhubarb Chutney is an excellent frugal chutney that makes use of readily available ingredients. If you store some rhubarb in the freezer for the winter, you can make this any time of year.
If you are new to canning, I recommend checking out this online guide from Bernardin. It provides clear directions for preparing your jars, and other important information about canning safety.
If you are interested in canning, the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is an excellent addition to your cookbook shelf. (In Canada, it sells under the title Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving.) This is one of the most well-used books in my kitchen.
This recipe is an adaptation of Bernardin’s Apple Rhubarb Chutney.
- 4 cups diced, peeled and cored apples
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups diced rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
- ¾ cup cider vinegar
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- In large saucepan, combine apples, sugar, rhubarb and vinegar.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
- Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.
- Add cranberries and spices.
- Continue simmering for another 15 minutes, or until the chutney is thick enough to mound on a spoon. (You will see a noticeable change when the chutney begins to gel.)
- Ladle hot chutney into prepared jars. Leave ½" of headspace. Remove any air bubbles by sliding a knife around the edges of the jar.
- Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth, and center canning lid on jar. Screw the band onto jar until you feel resistance. Then increase slightly until firmly fastened, but not overly tight.
- Place filled jars in the canner. Make sure they are completely covered with water. Cover canner.
- Bring water in canner to a boil, and boil jars for 10 minutes.
- Turn off heat, remove canner lid and leave jars in hot water for 5 minutes.
- Remove from canner with tongs and let cool. Do not tighten the metal bands.
- You will hear a metallic 'ping' as the jars cool. This is good - it means the canning process has created the proper vacuum seal needed to make your chutney last on the shelves. The lids of the jars will be slightly concave - you should not be able to push them down.
- Label and store jars.