Rhubarb Chutney

July 14, 2009(updated on May 26, 2022)

This rhubarb chutney is a glorious way to preserve those ruby stalks for later in the year. Serve it with crumbly cheddar, grilled meat, or roasted vegetables.

rhubarb chutney

After going completely crazy for rhubarb back in the spring, I took a bit of a break from it in June (with all the other summer fruits and vegetables coming into ripeness, there was plenty to keep me occupied). However, during that fallow time, I still had rhubarb that needed to be used, tightly wrapped and tucked into the bottommost corner of my left-hand crisper drawer. When the 4th of July weekend rolled around, I decided to have a weekend of many canning projects. I made multiple batches of pickles (bread and butter & dilly beans) and jams (apricot), and finally did something with that neglected rhubarb.

Though the ends of the stalks were a bit worse for the storage time, the rhubarb was still in acceptable shape and more than good enough to be turned into something wonderful. Back when I made that batch of grape catchup (has anyone tried that recipe? It’s okay if you haven’t, it is sort of a weird one), I also noted two rhubarb recipes in close proximity. One was a recipe for rhubarb butter and the other was a rhubarb chutney. I headed into my canning extravaganza with every intention of making the butter, but on that Friday night, when I finally got around to dealing with the rhubarb, I had just finished making six pints of apricot jam, and I was weary of all those sweet notes.

My fingers flipped to the chutney recipe and wouldn’t you know, I had every single ingredient the recipe called for right there in my kitchen. It was fated (or I have a ridiculously overstocked kitchen. I think Scott would argue for the latter) and so I made chutney from my beloved New York Times Heritage Cook Book.

Thing is, I don’t really come from chutney people. We McClellans like our condiments just fine (I grew up dipping steamed broccoli in mayonnaise and roasted potatoes in mustard), but my mother has never been a sweet-and-savory-in-the-same-bite kind of person, so I grew up unaccustomed to the ways in which a good chutney can transform a dish. And I must say, this simple recipe is fairly transformational (at least for this chutney innocent).

It’s quite tasty (although I think if I make it again, I’ll make it just a bit spicier) and I have plans for it to encounter a nice slab of chevre sometime in the very near future (my latest party trick, when called upon to bring a contribution to a potluck or evening of in-home drinks with friends is to bring jam, goat cheese and crackers. It is so simple and people are completely impressed). If you’ve got some rhubarb to use up and you are tired of jams, cobblers, slumps and crisps, this is a good way to go.

4 from 3 votes

Rhubarb Chutney

Servings: 6 pints


  • 8 cups sliced rhubarb
  • 6 cups sliced onion
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 7 cups light brown sugar don’t be alarmed, the vinegar really cuts the sweetness
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper if you’re a spice fiend, most definitely add more


  • Combine all ingredients in a heavy kettle (a enamel-lined dutch oven works really well here. Don’t use a straight cast iron one here, all that vinegar will strip away your seasoning). Bring to a boil and simmer gently until slightly thickened (the recipe calls for 45 minutes of cooking time, I’d cut it a bit shorter if you want your rhubarb to maintain some of its texture/identity). Stir frequently, otherwise it will stick (and sticking leads to scortching, so stir, stir, stir).
  • When the texture pleases you, pour into clean pint jars and process in a hot water bath for ten minutes.


Rhubarb Chutney from page 547 of the “The New York Times Heritage Cook Book” by Jean Hewitt

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49 thoughts on "Rhubarb Chutney"

  • I *love* rhubarb chutney. It’s also great on grilled chicken or pork. I think the recipe I usually use is from the Joy of Cooking Canning Y Preserving, but it’s almost identical to the NYTimes Heritage one you posted.

    I was out of town and missed a lot of rhubarb season, but managed to make one batch of jam with rhubarb – a delicately-flavored rhubarb-ginger one: http://seasonal-menus.blogspot.com/2009/07/rhubarb-and-ginger-jam.html

  • I’m fascinated by the thought of Rhubarb Chutney. It sounds amazing and I really love the idea of consuming it with cheese and crackers. Yum Yum!

  • Very intriguing recipe. I always take hot pepper jam, cheese, and crackers to a party-I am sure my friends would welcome a chutney at this point. 🙂

  • I am happy with NONE of the rhubarb jam recipes I’ve found (and there are many), so thank you SO MUCH for this. I have rhubarb from my CSA box waiting for a use!

  • Perfect! It was great over stirfried veggies and rice last night, and I’m putting it over cream cheese with crackers for playgroup Friday (for the moms, not the kids:). Thanks, Marisa!

  • Ha! this is the exact rhubarb chutney recipe that my stepmom uses, and I love it very much! I’ve been looking for it for a few days, because the rhubarb is just coming into season and I’ve started to get into canning this year 😉

  • I’m making the chutney and though it has been simmering for an hour it is still very soupy. Do I just keep simmering or will my rhubarb and onions disintegrate into nothing?

  • Could I add less vinegar and sugar next time (3 c. vinegar & 6 c. brown sugar) so it’s a bit thicker?
    This was my first time canning and I’m SO glad I found your blog. I also made your orange rhubarb butter and I’m planning to make the rosemary rhubarb jam.
    Thanks for the fun recipes!

    1. Jessi, if you want it to be thicker, you just cook it down longer. I’m delighted to hear that you like the blog!

  • I made a simple rhubarb chutney this week to have with roasted pork tenderloin and it was divine! It was just a chopped onion, 2 cups of chopped rhubarb, salt & pepper, a little sugar and water, and a tablespoon or 2 of vinegar at the end. I made it in a skillet. The recipe (from Real Simple’s Spring/Summer 2012 mag/book) called for red wine vinegar, but as I’ve recently moved, I couldn’t find any, so I substituted it with red raspberry vinegar. Turned out awesome. I’d love to know if it would be safe to can, though! My aunt has a couple of gigantic rhubarb plants and has been giving it away by the armload!

    1. Ginger, that recipe doesn’t have nearly enough acid in it for it to be safe for canning. That’s a refrigerator-only recipe.

      1. Marissa,
        I just found a rhubarb recipe that I tried and loved but did not can becuse there were no istructions to do so and I only made a smaller test bach to see if we would like it. Do you think the recipy below is acidic enough to can. If not, how do you make it canning worthy? If it’s ok to can, how long do you water bath it for and how do you know? I’d also like to add more nuts than the recipe calls for…how will that effect it? Thank you so much.

        Rhubarb Chutney  from 1989 Mother Earth News
        6 cups diced rhubarb
        2 cups sugar
        1 1 / 2 cups raisins
        1 / 2 cup chopped onion
        1 / 2 cup vinegar
        1 teaspoon salt
        1 teaspoon ginger
        1 teaspoon cinnamon
        1 teaspoon allspice
        1 / 2 cup chopped walnuts

        Put all ingredients except walnuts in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, and heat to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes or until thickened. Cool, then stir in walnuts. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator, where it will keep for at least a month.

          1. Marissa,
            I do have a canning pressure cooker. Can I use this recipe with the pressure cooker and if so how long do I pressure cook it and at what pressure?

            The basic pressure canning instruction for rhubarb just say 1/2 cup sugar for each qt of rhubarb, process at 6 lbs pressure for 8 minutes. Would I use the same instructions for the above recipe if it ok to do?

  • Love the Rhubarb Chutney recipe! Made it today. I was out of cayenne so used red pepper flakes instead and because I have a serious addiction to everything HOT, I used 2 teasspoons. I also added a teaspoon of mustard seed and a teaspoon on fresh ginger (as well as powdered).
    What are your thoughts on a steam canner? It uses much less water and uses the same time as a water bath canner.

  • I halved this recipe except for the raisins (I put in 1.5 cups). Also because I used frozen rhubarb, a lot more water sweated out of the rhubarb so the yield was quite high. I am worried that the extra water would affect the acidity and render this recipe unsafe for canning. I cooked it down a fair amount to get the consistency I liked. Any advice?
    thanks so much

  • i’d love to make this recipe as soon as i get my hands on some rhubarb…quick question- for the 7 cups light brown sugar, should the cups be packed?

  • Marisa:

    I’d like to make this Rhubarb Chutney… but want to substitute tart apples for the rhubarb. I’ve done this before, but never gave a thought to whether it’d still be safe to can. Luckily, I didn’t poison anyone!

    But, now that I know that it’s not okay to mess around with this sort of thing… can I use the apples and still jar and process the chutney safely?



      1. Brilliant! Thanks for the quick reply — btw… as a novice canner, I really love your website and have just bought your book. I’ve just recently moved from the Canadian prairies where I was a city dweller for 15 years, to the west coast where I have a yard. With the abundance of fresh produce, longer growing season, etc… I am SO looking forward to having a small garden of my own and canning/preserving everything in sight! 🙂

  • Hi Marisa – i LOVE this blog. It is my absolute go to. I am anxiously waiting for your book to arrive in the mail. Question about the rhubarb: I’ve had it on the stove now for almost two hours because it wouldn’t cook down enough. Unfortunately, the rhubarb and onions disintegrated in the process. I added four more cups of rhubarb and another cup of onions. Can I still hot water bath the batch? Or has the ratio been thrown off?

    Thank you!

    1. Jennifer, the rhubarb always disintegrates. It’s supposed to cook down into a thick, dollop-able mush. Unfortunately, because you added extra onions, it’s no longer safe for boiling water bath canning.

  • Hi Again,

    Also – do you have any suggestions for chutney that is way too soupy? After almost 2.5 hours on the stove, I gave up and thought about trying to reboil it tomorrow. Is the batch a goner?

    Thank you,

    1. Jennifer, I don’t really understand how it’s possible that it’s still soupy after 2 1/2 hours of active boiling, particularly since you added extra ingredients. It’s not covered, is it? And it’s over relatively high heat, boiling away?

  • I am so excited to have come across this recipe! I recently got a call from my grandma with a recipe HER aunt passed along, until the title “rhubarb relish”. Turns out it is my great-great-great-great-great grandmothers recipe, and is near identical to the one you have (sans the raisins, ginger and cayenne). We made ours and had it with brined pork chops, rice, and sauteed swiss chard. Yum!! Yay for vintage recipes!!

  • Thanks for posting this recipe, I made it tonight and I am really happy with it. I cut the recipe down to a 1/4 batch because I just wanted to try it first to see what it was like before committing to full batch or a canning project. I put in more cayenne and bit more clove (as per your comment about making it more spicy next time) and I am glad I did because I what I ended up with was just about right for me. Thanks for that suggestion.

    If this might be helpful to someone else…while I can think of a lot of good uses for this I would be really happy to have this on a burger in place of the more standard catsup, relish or A1 sauce. While it is none of those things to my mind it has elements of each of them and that vibe but it definitely has a wider range then that and I think it is better then anything I have ever bought in a store. I am really glad I tried it.

  • This is the third year I make this chutney and it is a favorite among my friends and family. When things are crazy in the summer, I just freeze my chopped rhubarb and then in the cold days of winter, I can easily whip up a batch for Christmas gifts. It is the perfect combo of sweet,savory, sour and salty. Great with pork!! Thanks Marisa :). I think I will try it with apples too as a pp has done.

  • Thanks for this great recipe! It was a huge hit with family and neighbors who received a jar. 🙂

  • The recipe looks interesting and I would like to try it. About how’s many point jars does this make?

    1. It typically makes somewhere between 5 and 6 pints. Sorry that the recipe was missing that critical detail, I changed recipe apps last summer and that detail was stripped out of a lot of recipes.

  • 5 stars
    Fresh from a friends farm; her rhubarb was first picks of her plants. I had 8 cups of rhubarb, 3 cups of vidallia onions, 2 cups of raisins and no cinnamon (my husband allergic) and 3 cups of Swerve Brown Sugar (her husband a diabetic). Everything else was the same quantities for 6 pints. I cooked it quite a while, to the consistency of apple sauce. Once it was cooled down I used freezer bags for half of it, in 1 cup quantities. The remainder was used for hot dog, chicken and pork chops; also samples to other friends. The longer it sat in the fridge, the better it tasted. Tomorrow will be the second batch – making it AT the Farm and then will can it. Again, no sugar, but equal amounts of Swerve Brown as a substitute. Thank you for posting this recipe. Carren

    1. I’m so happy to hear that it worked well with Swerve! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Love the flavors. Not sure about whether packed or not packed Brown sugar. Way too sweet, will try not packed next time…also I think cooking past 45 mins gets it too thick.
    Recipe says simmer, which in my understanding is turning down the heat, but in comments you said to continue to boil. Going to continue to teak this because the flavors are good. I am sure I overcooked it is too thick..
    Also 1/4 fill or 1/2. to the top.