Rhubarb and Orange Cordial, Rhubarb Chutney and Made in Hackney

Last weekend I went to a great little workshop at the Made in Hackney Kitchen in Stoke Newington. I was really excited to try one of their Community Classes which all get booked up really quickly! There were so many I was interested in I found it hard to choose, in the end I plumped for the Jam, Chutney and Cordial class. I've always dreamed of that rosy life of one day having a pantry full of jams, chutneys and preserves (oh and the space to keep them!) so this seemed like a good place to start!

The course was run by "Mama Bentley" (the mum of Sarah Bentley, one of the project co-ordinators), who was a real laugh and a great teacher. She had some great tips, such as, stirring a knob of butter into jam to get rid of the scum, which fruits are naturally high in pectin (the compound needed to set your jam) and the difference between Jam Sugar and Preserving Sugar (don't bother with Preserving Sugar its a fad apparently, use Jam Sugar when you need more pectin in your fruit).

The course was somewhat rhubarb centric given that we are in the "hungry gap" at the moment and two weeks behind the normal growing season with this terrible weather. Using mostly rhubarb wasn't a problem for me though as I love it! We came away with Rhubarb and Orange Jam (mock apricot - it really does taste like apricot!), Rhubarb Chutney and Beetroot Chutney. Unfortunately we didn't have time in the end to make any cordial but  Mama Bently talked us through it and so I had to try out her recipe when I got home.

I've included recipe's below for the Rhubarb Chutney and Rhubarb cordial, courtesy of Mama Bentley. The Chutney is really unusual, I'd never seen rhubarb used in this way before, but was absolutely delish. The cordial is just perfect for a refreshing drink on a summers day, or when you need reminding that summer is out there, somewhere!

Rhubarb and Orange Cordial
Makes approx 750ml
Adapted from Mama Bentley's recipe

With this amount of sugar the cordial should keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. If you want to  use the cordial sooner you could use less sugar, around 50g, and use within 4 days. This is great with ice cold sparkling waster or even some prosecco!

600g rhubarb, cut into small pieces
250g sugar
2 x tangerines (or one large orange),  juiced
zest of one un-waxed lemon
approx 500ml water

Place all the ingredients in a medium pan and add just enough water until all the rhubarb is covered.

Bring to a simmer and cook gently for around 15 minutes until very soft.

Strain through muslim (scalded with boiling water) and a fine sieve into a measuring jug. Be careful not to squeeze the fruit otherwise you will get a cloudy cordial. Leave to strain for a couple of hours then pour the cordial into sterlised bottles.

Rhubarb Chutney
Yield - 6 pounds
NB - metric measurements are approx

3 lbs. (1.5kg) rhubarb
1 lb. (500g) onions
1 lb. (500g) apples
1/2 pint (300ml) water
1/2 lb. raisins
3/4 pint (450ml) vinegar
2 lbs. (1kg) sugar
1 tsp. ground cinamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. salt

1. Wash rhubarb and cut into small pieces
2. Peel and chop the onions into small dice
3. Chop apples and combine with onion, rhubarb and water in a large pan. Cook until soft.,
4. Turn off the heat and then add the raisins, vinegar, sugar, salt and spices. Stir over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
5. Bring to a simmering point and continue to cook until the chutney thickens, stirring all the time.
6. Fill sterilised jars up to the top, cover with a wax disk and vinegar proof lid. Store in a cool dry place for at least one month before eating.


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