Chutneys are not something I make that often, and when I do they are usually the quick variety that don’t require hours of cooking. This one is somewhere in the middle. The cooking time is about 90 minutes, the majority of which is just gentle simmering that frees you up to get on with something else. I write this in rhubarb season, at a time when I have several pots of tiny rhubarb seedlings just poking their young heads out of the soil, that I can look forward to harvesting at a later date. For now, I have shop-bought bunches of reddish-green stems that I am eager to cook with.
A rhubarb chutney struck me as an interesting and timely choice, and red onion makes the perfect accompaniment to give it the sweetness and depth it deserves, as well as adding to the richness of colour. It is better to make this the day before you want to eat it, to allow for full flavour infusion and a properly chilled preserve. It’ll keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks without proper canning. There’s enough in this recipe to last you that long, and even enough to give some to a friend.
Prep time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: about 90 minutes, plus overnight chilling time.
Make about 1kg
2 tbsp olive oil
6 medium red onions (about 500g) sliced
2 mild, red chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
600g rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
400g golden caster sugar
¾ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onions for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the sliced chillies and the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring a little more frequently as they begin to cook through.
Now put in the rhubarb and the rest of the ingredients and bring the pan to the boil. Simmer gently for about 1 hour 20 minutes, stirring it from time to time to prevent sticking, until you have a thick and reduced chutney. Allow to cool before transferring it to a storage container, then refrigerate overnight.