This sugar-free rhubarb chutney is rhubarb lover’s tangiest dream! Also suitable for garlic lovers. And lovers in general. (If you don’t care about some garlicky fumes swirling around…)
For not the biggest friends of tongue-tickling tangy flavors, I give some suggestions for mellower variations in the end of the post. Naturally, I give a few alternatives for garlic, too, in case garlic gobbling is not your cup of tea.
You can color the chutney with bright hues — like I have done in the photo above. I give some ideas for very natural colors in the end of the post. Actually, throughout the post you can see the photos of these colorful creations.
Tips for making the rhubarb chutney
The method is very simple, just combine all ingredients and let simmer until soft. The chopping of the ingredients is the most laborious part.
It’s a good idea to chop the onion quite fine, otherwise there will be big, hard and raw chunks of onion in the ready chutney.
You can also use ready minced garlic, but fresh garlic is always better.
After all that chopping and crushing, just combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Rhubarb…
…onion, garlic and vinegar…
…and finally stevia.
Mix really well and then just simmer over low heat until soft.
You might have the urge to mix the chutney often while it’s simmering. Just be patient and mix only a few times. The result should be chunky, and excess mixing will break the piquant-tasting rhubarb chunks. Keep the heat low enough to prevent burning and to ensure that the mixture doesn’t burn on the bottom of the saucepan.
My experiments with the chutney
As I have spent some time in our summer cottage which is in the middle of nowhere, I had to develop recipes from the ingredients which I happened to have at hand. My mom brought bucketfuls of rhubarb stalks, so I had to invent some use for those. Ideas started flowing through my mind, and the hardest part was to decide the best idea which to choose for further development.
First I tried a version of rhubarb crisp, but since the topping turned out mushy-slushy mess rather than crunchy-crispy heaven on top of soft, oozing rhubarb filling, I decided to give up the idea. Obviously I should have cooked the rhubarb filling first to keep the top crusty. And that was too complicated for my simplifying-oriented brain.
I was thinking of desserts from rhubarb fool to meringue-topped rhubarb pie. Then it suddenly hit me that why does it have to be dessert? Would there be something more useful, a multi-use rhubarb dish? Something what you can add to your breakfast omelet, lunch chicken and barbecue dinner? Rhubarb chutney! Tart, tangy, slightly sweet. You can basically add it everywhere. That sounded perfect.
I think there exists countless recipes for rhubarb chutney, but as I like to research and explore, I wanted to develop my own recipe from scratch and check out how different seasonings and flavors go with each other.
So what do I need? The self-evident rhubarb, yes, but how much? Let’s start with 4 cups (950 ml). And what other ingredients in addition? Onions, naturally. At least to me fruity chutney is not chutney without onion.
Since chutney is acidic, I needed some vinegar, too. Apple cider vinegar was perfect. It was healthful, fruitier and milder than for example spirit vinegar.
I still needed something to sweeten the chutney. Stevia, the reliable all-round sweetener, was again my choice. I really have been using much stevia lately. It’s just so convenient: just a few drops and the flavor of drinks and desserts raise to upper spheres. And now, stevia was about to raise the flavor of the chutney to those upper spheres.
Rhubarb, onion, ACV and stevia. The basic ingredients were together. I still needed some spices. Since I was developing the recipe in the summer cottage, I didn’t have that extensive collection of spices and seasonings available.
I opened the drawer and started exploring the content. I picked some seasonings which I wanted to test with the rhubarb chutney. But first, I had to prepare the chutney.
First, I combined 4 1/4 cups (1 l) chopped rhubarb, 1 small onion, 1/3 cup (80 ml) apple cider vinegar and 40 drops stevia. I simmered the chutney over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring every now and then. Then the most exciting part: the first tasting.
That first version was really tart and tangy, so I added another 10 drops stevia. Rhubarb was quite overpowering, the amount of onion could have been bigger to compensate the overwhelming rhubarb. The amount of apple cider vinegar was just right, less would have been lame and more too acidic.
I grabbed my seasonings and started tasting them with the chutney. Here are the spices and seasonings I tested, followed by my opinion how well they went with the rhubarb chutney (* = inedible; ***** = incredible):
- cinnamon** (dessert-like taste; I was immediately thinking of Christmas)
- curry powder * (that was burning!)
- ground white pepper *** (surprisingly good)
- allspice ** (interesting, actually a bit too interesting)
- ground ginger *** (nice, but left my mouth burning again. A tiny amount is enough)
- bitter orange * (no way, just simply didn’t suit the other flavors)
- cardamom ** (was great with rhubarb, but not with chutney. Maybe in a mixed seasoning?)
- crushed, fresh garlic **** (that was nice!)
- fresh basil *** (surprising flavor combination but very nice)
- cherry flavor * (no way; you can just imagine how well cherry and onion go with each other… yup)
- vanilla extract * (well, this was obvious. Think of the combination of onion and vanilla again)
- nutmeg * (I simply couldn’t taste it no matter how much I added it)
- turmeric **** (nice color, nice taste. Gave some burning feeling, though, but that wasn’t bad)
- ground black pepper ** (again I had to add quite much before I could taste it. But in general it was okayish)
- cloves **** (interesting, but in a very positive way. Went really well with rhubarb. Again, could add some spice mix with cloves)
From the list above I chose garlic to my final recipe. Why? It just felt right and it made a great companion to the ordinary onion and rustic rhubarb.
Tips for variation
You can replace the apple cider vinegar with some other type of vinegar. ACV is relatively mild vinegar, so you might want to use smaller amount of stronger-tasting vinegar (like spirit vinegar), otherwise the ready chutney might taste too acidic.
For milder flavor, you can replace part of the rhubarb with peeled and sliced apples, grated carrot or roasted pumpkin. Apples and carrot bring some carbs, so be aware of that if you are counting carbs strictly.
I like to color this otherwise dull-colored accompaniment to something more appetizing and fancier. Actually, the variety of rhubarb affects to the color of the ready chutney as well. Since my rhubarbs ended up with almost no color after cooking, I had to invent something to brighten and boost the color in a natural way. I’m not comfortable with artificial food colors.
First I wanted some red hue. Since chutney is acidic, I thought blueberry might react with the acid and produce red color. I mashed some thawed blueberries and mixed them with the chutney. I needed only a tiny amount of blueberries to create bright pinkish hue. Perfect!
Another suitable colors were orange and yellow. For that I added some turmeric. The chutney turned into nice orange-colored sauce. Even better, the turmeric gave a hint of exotic, piquant taste which went well with the other flavors.