making rhubarb relish

August 25, 2010 at 8:33 am 11 comments

The rhubarb chutney I made last month tastes delicious but … the texture and flavour of the rhubarb chunks is greatly diminished through the long boiling process and the strong flavours of the spices.  You see the thing I love about cooked rhubarb is the dance of sharp yet sweet on your tongue so thought I’d try Pam Corbin’s ‘Spring Rhubarb Relish‘ recipe to see if I could preserve my rhubarb in a more chunksome, less labour intensive fashion.  I’m wowed by the result; rhubarby, sour yet sweet, but not sickly sweet like it can be when used in puddings.  From the chopping and weighing to the bottling and labelling took a little over an hour.  Add in the washing up and you’re looking at an hour and half kitchen time tops.  It’s so simple you could easily make it alongside cooking tea.

to make rhubarb relish
300g sugar
100ml cider vinegar
100ml water
1kg rhubarb
125g raisin
for the spice bag:  50 g bruised* root ginger, 2 cinnamon sticks, 6 cloves

  • Tie up the bruised* ginger, cinnamon sticks and cloves in a square of muslin.
  • Put the sugar, vinegar, water and spice bag into a preserving pan.  Heat gently to dissolve the sugar and allow the spices to release their flavours into the syrup.
  • Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for about 20 minutes
  • Meanwhile trim and wipe the rhubarb stalks into 2cm chunks. Add the rhubarb and raisins to the spiced syrup. Cook gently for 15-20 minutes until the mixture is thick, but the rhubarb is still discernible as soft chunks.
  • Remove from the heat, pour into warm, sterilised jars and seal with vinegar-proof lids. Use within 12 months.

* to bruise ginger crush gently with a pestle and mortar or rolling pin


Entry filed under: in the kitchen.

making sauteed courgettes rainy day harvests

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Johanna GGG  |  August 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    I love how you can see the chunks in the jars and your photo of the spices is gorgeous – have never tried the spice bag but it sounds like an excellent idea – esp as I have some very crumbly cinnamon sticks in my pantry

  • 2. Tom  |  August 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm


  • 3. Jo  |  August 25, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Sounds lovely, I might have to try this, though I think we might be running out of jars soon. Rhubarb has that way of collapsing on you doesn’t it?

    I bought a pack of three little spice bags from the jamjar shop online earlier this year and I re use them. They have little drawstrings, like tiny shoebags. Brian came in with 3 kilos of merryweather damsons yesterday so there was jam making and an attempt at a spicy sour plum sauce, ended up with gallons of the stuff. There’ll be a lot of duck pancakes this year.

  • 4. Christine @ Grub, Sweat and Cheers  |  August 26, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    Beautiful – I am so going to make this. I imagine it wouldn’t be a problem using frozen rhubarb. I chopped and froze leftover organic rhubarb when I made your chutney a few weeks ago and this looks like the perfect way to use it up. Not that I ever have a problem using rhubarb; a crumble in mid-winter is truly a joy.

  • 5. Nip it in the bud  |  August 28, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Johanna – I could really get into this way of preserving. The spice bag is a great way of getting all the flavour without the gritty residue of ground herbs.

    Tom – thanks

    Jo – your spice bags sound like a canny creation. You must have been in a real pickling frenzy to run out of jars.
    Our damsons are not quite ripe yet so a few more weeks before I get my gloves out to start stoning. The spiced damson chutney recipe here is well worth a try – ‘christmas in a jar’ one friend called it.

    Christine – frozen rhubarb will be fine and I shall be doing the same shortly. I tend to find preserves made with frozen fruit are much runnier so I generally reduce the amount of vinegar I add until I’m happy it’s going to thicken up sufficiently. Like you say though it’ll never go begging :o)

  • 6. Hazel  |  August 28, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Are you still happy pulling rhubarb this late in the year, Nic? Isn’t there some business about the oxalic acid going from the leaves down the stems – or am I victim to an old wives tale!

    I do know that I need less sugar in a batch of early rhubarb wine, compared to a later pulling.

    • 7. Nip it in the bud  |  August 30, 2010 at 4:56 pm

      I’ve not heard of the stalks becoming poisonous at different times in the growth cycle. I thought I read somewhere that cooking destroys oxalic acid build up? As a general rule of thumb I tend to go by colour and texture – if it’s too dark red/green or tough to cut I leave it alone. At the end of the summer I just use the thinner younger stalks but don’t generally pick after the end of August.

  • 8. BitterSweet  |  August 29, 2010 at 1:32 am

    What an unusual spread- And so beautiful, too. The jars remind me of colorful threads for craft projects. 🙂

  • 9. hillwards  |  September 7, 2010 at 7:48 am

    Hi! Lovely to find your blog, thank you for commening on the poppies – this relish sounds lovely. Didn’t harvest any of our rhubarb this year as it is in temporary residence with a relative after moving house last year, but I shall make a note of this for next year, it sounds great and your photos are very appetising! Sara

  • 10. Nip it in the bud  |  September 8, 2010 at 9:28 am

    Hannah – now you mention it, so they do!

    Sara – there are some terrific rhubarb recipes out there. If you like cake rhubarb and custard dribbling through the mix is a gorgeous combination

  • 11. five ways with … a ton of rhubarb | Nip it in the bud  |  November 20, 2017 at 8:00 am

    […] rhubarb relish […]


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About Nip it in the bud

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