Rhubarb Chutney

rhubarb chutney

Rhubarb—it’s not anything like celery.  And thank goodness.  I have major beef with celery; the strings in my teeth, the incessant chewing, the celery-like flavor.  But rhubarb?  Rhubarb I like.  I can get down with rhubarb, whose tang practically begs to be paired with sweet strawberries.  When you jam or bake with rhubarb, it softens beautifully, but the tart flavor remains.

So I know I’m a little late with a rhubarb recipe, but can we pretend I am fashionably late?  Thanks.

2 lbs rhubarb

I had rhubarb in my freezer, from the boys at Mano Farm in Ojai.  I had already made strawberry rhubarb jam (though, in retrospect, you can never have enough strawberry rhubarb jam) and I was dreaming of rhubarb vanilla bean ice cream and rhubarb blueberry ginger jam, but inspiration struck, and I settled on chutney.

Chutney, relish, call it what you will.  Quick to throw together, this spread is tangy but the spices add a warmth.  The red onions bring delicate pink blossoms of color which look quite beautiful, if you ask me.

rhubarb relish blossom

When you first make it, the vinegar flavor might overwhelm, but give it time.  Come back to it in about three months, and the ingredients will have had time to work their magic, absorbing the vinegar and thus mellowing the flavor.

This chutney is best served with a rich hunk of meat, or as an accompaniment to cheese and crackers or crusty bread.

rhubarb chutney

Rhubarb Chutney

Yield: about 3 pints


  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup strawberry vinegar (just use apple cider vinegar if you don't have strawberry vinegar
  • 1 finger fresh ginger, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 scant tablespoon sea salt
  • 8 whole cloves, or about 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 4 whole peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 dash cardamom
  • 2 pounds rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries


  1. Combine the sugar, vinegar, ginger, garlic, sea salt, cloves, peppercorns, mustard seeds and cardamom in a non-reactive saucepan and bring it to a boil.
  2. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly, then turn the heat down to a simmer.
  3. Add the rhubarb, red onion, raisins, and cranberries and simmer over low heat, stirring every so often, until the chutney reaches your desired thickness. This should take about 20 minutes.
  4. To can the chutney, ladle the chutney into your prepared canning jars (they should be clean and hot) and leave 1/2 inch of headspace. Bubble the jars to release trapped air, wipe the rims, and affix the lids and rings.
  5. Process in your water-bath canner for 10 minutes. Start the timer as the mixture comes to a boil. After 10 minutes, remove the canner from heat and let the jars rest for about 5 minutes.
  6. Then, carefully remove your jars taking care they don't tip. Set them aside for 24 hours, and then check the seals.
  7. Label and date your chutney, and then store it in a cool, dark place, and it will last for up to 1 year.
  8. To refrigerate the chutney, ladle it into jars or containers, let it cool and then refrigerate it. It should last for up to three weeks.
  9. You may also freeze your chutney, following the directions for refrigeration as written above.


This recipe was adapted from Rhubarb Chutney with Cloves in Put 'em Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton.

The vinegar flavor is initially quite strong, but will mellow over time. Open the chutney after about 3 months.

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