When Sweet and Sour Collide

The days and weeks are blurring together as we continue to self-shelter. The things that make the days distinct from each other are often absent. Monday seems the same as Wednesday, as we work on the farm; not at all sure that our efforts will hit their intended destination. The pandemic has changed virtually every known thing to the unknown. Then, something happens that feels disproportionately meaningful. A delivery of asparagus, from a dear friend’s garden, or eight pounds of beautiful red rhubarb for use in something delicious. These small things are a welcome distraction. I cling to food, love, nature and friendships like a life-line on a sinking ship. There are times when I sit down to write this food blog that I question the why of it; does it even mean anything anymore? But food it what we do here. We wake up thinking about it, and dream about it as we sleep.

When you have a passion, it is so important to continue to keep the faith, and do what you love. It is how each of us affects our environment for the better. Stay present. Do your best. Stay kind. Fight for justice. There is sour as well as sweetness in life; and we must always remember this going forward each day.

So this week I made pasta dishes, grilled, and turned all that lovely asparagus into soup; each dish a celebration of late spring. Then came the rhubarb; the deep red kind that you can only find with the old varieties. I just love the stuff. First, I made a simple syrup for cocktails. Next, I slow roasted some with sugar, white wine and vanilla to serve with maple-yogurt. But the bulk of it was turned into Rhubarb Chutney. Combined with apple cider vinegar, sugar, spices, red onion and golden raisins. Wow! I love how chutneys seem to be a surprise with every mouthful. This can be used with roasted chicken, pork tenderloin or even over ice cream. I cut way back on the sugar, as I feel that what is typically recommended is usually more than my palette can take. This lets the rhubarb shine, while allowing you to appreciate its overall savoriness. I was pleased with the results that yielded 11 half pints. I then processed it in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.

Beautiful red rhubarb

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup can sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups fresh rhubarb, cut in 1/2 inch cubes (about 1.5 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup (generous) finely chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Combine first 8 ingredients (sugar through red pepper) in heavy Dutch oven. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  2. Add rhubarb, onion and golden raisins; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil as you thoroughly mix ingredients.
  3. Cook until rhubarb is tender and mixture thickens slightly, 5-8 minutes.
  4. Fill 1/2 pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch head-space. Attach lids and rings. Water bath process for 15 minutes.
  5. Let cool completely.

Yield: 5-6 jelly jars

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

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