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Rhubarb relish: Recipe for seasonal condiment

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Just as the tomato is a fruit that we treat as though it were a vegetable, rhubarb is a vegetable that we treat as though it were fruit. Rhubarb is one of the first vegetable crops to be harvested in Indiana and its rosy pink stalks are available at many farmers markets.

Rhubarb is one of the vegetables touted in most diet regimes, from low glycemic to paleo. This is because plain rhubarb contains very little natural sugar. It is also very fibrous, a reason it was considered a "spring tonic" during pioneer days ("it cleans out your system.") Rhubarb's distinctive flavor comes from oxalic acid, so this vegetable may be off limits to those who are prone to kidney stones.

Strawberry-rhubarb pie is the most common recipe that uses this vegetable, but it is actually more useful than this. The following relish - or salsa - makes a tremendous topper for pork, beef or venison.

Rhubarb Relish
2 c. finely chopped fresh rhubarb
2 c. finely chopped onion
2 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1 c. cider vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground pepper

In a saucepan, combine all ingredients. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Store relish in glass container in refrigerator. Makes 3 1/2 cups.

This relish can also be canned using a hot water bath and processed as a low-acid food.

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