Rhubarb Chutney

What's not to love about all the sweet treats made with rhubarb? This recipe shifts rhubarb to the savory side, a chutney that's fabulous with grilled steak, roast pork, even stirred into Greek yogurt for a 'savory' dessert.

"The rhubarb is ready, the rhubarb is ready!" As a child, this was the first sign that summer had truly arrived.

My mom kept a few plants on the north side of the house. The cherry-red stalks were tart-tart-tart so Mom sent us to fetch some with a small dish of sugar – tasting while picking was encouraged!

As much as I love rhubarb pie, rhubarb coffeecake, rhubarb muffins, rhubarb sauce (you get the picture), I’ve become partial to rhubarb chutney. Served with grilled pork or chicken, it shouts of summer. Since rhubarb freezes so well, the chutney can be made year-round – summer in January, anyone?

Fresh ginger can be hard to come by in small-town groceries. Don’t be tempted to use ground ginger, however, as it’s a poor substitute. Instead, pick up several gnarled knobs next time you run across them. Wrap in plastic wrap, then seal in a freezer bag and freeze. Later cut off about an inch to yield a tablespoon of grated ginger.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences.


Hands-on time: 15 minutes plus occasional stirring
Total time: 25 - 45 minutes plus chilling
Makes 2 2/3 cups
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup (generous) chopped red onion
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen, about 1-1/2 pounds)

Combine all ingredients except onion, raisins and rhubarb in a four-quart kettle. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Add remaining ingredients and increase heat. Cook until rhubarb is tender and mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes for fresh rhubarb, about 30 minutes for frozen. Cool completely. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per serving (3 tablespoons each): 71 Cal; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 18g Carb; 1g Fiber; 3mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point

My dad's been trying to kill my mom's last rhubarb plants with Round-Up for years - thankfully, rhubarb is resilient and two survived. I've transplanted one plant into my own garden in Missouri and with the promise that rhubarb pie is the likely outcome, Dad is faithfully tending the other in Minnesota. Mom's rhubarb is a variety called 'Canadian Red' and yields the brilliant red color you see in the photo. I think of it as 'rhubarb red' - and it's become my favorite color! Not all rhubarb, however, is so red. In a few days, I'll post a recipe from another rhubarb plant in my garden that's a lovely soft chartreuse.
This recipe was originally published in print in 2003 and is published online for the first time in 2009

A Menu Starring Rhubarb Chutney

More Rhubarb Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
How to Make Rhubarb Jelly & Jam in Just One Hour Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler Rhubarb Sorbet

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I made a similar rhubarb chutney this weekend but with dried cherries. Love cooking with rhubarb!
I never did like rhubarb as a kid...possibly the way my mother cooked it? (sorry Mom!) This recipe sounds work trying. Is it spicy?
Oddly enough, last fall I proposed a rhubarb/sage compote - with thoughts very similar to your chutney - for a fund-raising luncheon I'm cooking today. Like you, I figured it would be great with pork.
Andrea ~ Great minds think alike! I think once you start with the savory idea of rhubarb, it's easy to 'riff' in new directions.

Grace F ~ Spicy? Hmm, not really, though there's a tiny bit of heat because of the cayenne.

Kevin ~ Yes, great minds do think alike!
Jeez! I just finished making the rhubarb compote/chutney/whatever you want to call it. I'll publish my recipe in the next week or so, but my god is that good stuff - and absolutely perfect for pork. I stole the allspice idea from you, I'd planned on mace but after opening both jars and sniffing followed your lead. Mace would have been good, but allspice was better - at least it was tonight.

Like Alanna I cook and write about cooking for a living. I can't say I've ever made one of her recipes (I'd have to check my archives and I'm kinda busy right now prepping a luncheon for 30 tomorrow) but I've used dozens of her ideas for flavor combinations. Alanna's taste buds are brilliant.
I make a very similar one, but use balsamic vinegar (deep dark color result) and omit the raisins, and use 1-2 tsp of hot red pepper paste as well as 2 tsps of chopped ginger...spicy, sweet, tart...delicious!!! also, I keep on hand jars of chopped organic ginger, for just this sort of thing. I also freeze jars of the chutney, and love it on simmered chicken breast, and pork....as well as a sort of dressing for a cold brown rice vegetable salad I make....

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna