With so much rhubarb around this time of the year I thought I'd make some Rhubarb Pickle Relish. This is a recipe my friend Maggie had published in our school fundraiser cookbook so many years ago and it's a real winner as far as pickles are concerned. Sweet and tangy, it complements many other foods. It's great on hot dogs or burgers and makes a delicious accompaniment to a roast (veggie or meat). You can use it like ketchup or any sweet pickle relish. I like to use it as a topping on my Lentil Roast instead of the usual ketchup topping.
Don't despair if you don't own a canning kettle. Any large covered pot, tall enough to hold a few bottles covered with water, will work. You just need to place some kind of trivet or stand on the bottom so the jars are not directly touching the bottom of the pot. I used a large stock pot for years before I purchased my canning kettle. Most large grocery stores or stores like Walmart or Canadian Tire carry canning supplies especially this time of the year--you may even find a sale on canning jars. And I find the best place to buy the canning lids is at the dollar store.
If you don't want to invest too heavily in canning supplies I would suggest you buy the jar lifter if nothing else. Trying to lift the scalding hot jars from the water is very difficult (and dangerous) without the lifter. Ask me how I know!
The recipe makes quite a large amount but you can make half the recipe if you wish. But you can always share a few jars with friends or neighbours. They'll be pleased you thought of them and they'll enjoy a tasty treat.
Rhubarb Pickle Relish
1 796 ml/28 oz can whole or diced tomatoes (Dice or break up whole tomatoes.)
6 cups white sugar
8 cups diced rhubarb
3 pounds onions, peeled and diced (5 or 6 large onions)
6 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1½ cups white vinegar
1½ cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons allspice
1 teaspoon turmeric
Place all ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cook until soft about 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally.
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup water
Add the cornstarch slurry to the simmering rhubarb mixture and stir until mixed through and everything is simmering again. Cook over low heat for an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When finished cooking, pour into sterilized canning jars and seal. Process in a water bath for 15 minutes. Remove from water and let cool before storing in a cool area. See the pictures and instructions below for processing the jars.
Makes 10 500ml/pint jars.
I use 500ml or pint jars for the relish but the smaller 250ml/half-pint jars may be used as well
The relish can be eaten right away but it improves in taste if left for a few weeks.
Assemble the ingredients. You will need to dice the rhubarb, apples, onions and tomatoes.
Mix everything in a large stock pot and bring to a simmer until everything is soft. This will take about 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally so the relish will not burn on the bottom of the pot.
Mix the cornstarch in a little water and add to the simmering rhubarb mixture. You will still have quite a thin mixture.
Simmer for an additional 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
Set out an old dish towel or paper toweling to catch drips and lay out the instruments of canning: funnel, ladle, lifter, jars, lids and bands. The jars should be sterilized before filling. See instructions for sterilizing jars here or here.
The lids need to be simmered for 5 minutes to soften the red sealing ring.
Or follow the package directions.
Using a canning funnel, fill the jars to within ½-inch of the top. Release any air bubbles using a plastic knife or the end of a plastic spoon. Clean the edge of the jar with a damp paper towel. Centre the lid on top of the jar and lightly screw down with the bands.
Place the filled jars in the canning kettle and fill with hot tap water. Cover the jars with at least 1-inch of water. Bring to a boil, cover and process for 15 minutes after water comes to a boil. You don't need a rapid boil but it should continue to gently boil the whole 15 minutes.
When the relish is ready, use a special jar lifter to remove the scalding hot bottles from the hot water.
As the jars cool they will seal. You will hear a little "ping" as the lids are sucked down tight. When you press on the lid there should be no give to the top. If the lid can be pushed down and it pops back up it has not been sealed. Reseal in a hot water bath or refrigerate and use immediately.
Wipe the jars for any sticky bits and label with contents and date.
A bumper crop of Sweet Rhubarb Pickle Relish.
Sweet Rhubarb Pickle Relish complements a serving of vegetarian sausage.