Lobster Suppers – A Time-honoured PEI Tradition

People visit Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province, for all kinds of reasons but many will tell you it’s for the beautiful beaches, stunning scenery, fine golf courses, and fabulous food – ahhhhh, yes, the food and, more specifically, the seafood.  Most people, when PEI is mentioned, will immediately say that we are known for our high-quality seafood, including mussels, oysters, and lobster.

For many years, the Island has been known for its “lobster suppers”. That is to say, they are restaurant venues that specialize in serving meals where lobster tends to be the star. As anyone who has eaten at a traditional PEI lobster supper will attest, they are the full meal deal.  For the most part, these lobster suppers are traditionally served in big community halls or large restaurant facilities.  Over the years, there have been several lobster supper enterprises come and go but, at the time of writing, two have endured for decades and they are really only about a 10-15 minute drive from each other.  With such a rich long history, I recently sat down with the general managers from both the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers and the Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers to find out how these suppers started and why they have enjoyed such enduring popularity.

New Glasgow Lobster Suppers – New Glasgow, PEI

Exterior of New Glasgow Lobster Suppers Building
New Glasgow Lobster Suppers, New Glasgow, PEI, Canada

Nestled in the heart of the rolling hills of rural New Glasgow along the scenic River Clyde and not far from North Rustico and Cavendish, the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers (NGLS) have been operating since 1958.  This makes them the longest running lobster suppers on the Island. When I asked general manager, Carl Nicholson, to explain their long success, he said it’s due to their freshness of product (lobsters are cooked daily) with all rolls, pies, and salads made daily on the premises. He also said that, since the suppers began, they have only had two managers, including himself, so there is an element of consistency in operation. With decades of experience behind them, they’ve clearly found the secret to staying in business.

How New Glasgow Lobster Suppers happened to start is, itself, an interesting story.  A group of young farmers in the area, known as the Junior Farmers Group, decided they wanted some kind of community centre.  The group of young farmers in their twenties and thirties came together and bought a small canteen from the Covehead Racetrack for $210 and moved it to New Glasgow.  In June, 1958, to pay for this building, they held a fundraising event that happened to have lobster for supper and a dance afterward.  The princely sum of $1.50 got you supper and the dance.  The building, small and primitive by any standards, had no kitchen facilities and only had make-shift tables made from saw horses with old doors on top and there were no chairs, just benches.

A kitchen and washrooms were added in 1962 and the group continued to serve one lobster supper per year until 1964 when they started serving the suppers once a week during July and August. They gradually increased service to two days a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. By 1967, lobster suppers were served five days per week and a cook was hired. As business grew, they expanded the kitchen and hired their first manager in 1969.  As their current manager, Carl, says, “it is a true testament to sustainability [of the lobster suppers], only growing and expanding as demand grew and they were able to pay for each expansion”.

By 1972, six local couples bought out the shares of the other Junior Farmers who had been part of the initial enterprise and, in 1973, they added on a big extension to the building to accommodate the growing lobster supper demand. The original building is still within the walls of the current structure. A grand opening was held in 1974 when then-PEI Premier Alex Campbell brought along Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Margaret Trudeau who happened to be on the Island at the time.  Mrs. Trudeau cut the ribbon to officially open the newly-expanded New Glasgow Lobster Suppers.

Over the years, various changes have occurred and, since 1980, two of the original six families – the MacRaes and Nicholsons – have run the suppers, now making it a third generation run family business.

One thing that has not changed at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers is their deeply-rooted connection to the local community and their family-oriented work environment.  The operation now sees members from the third generation of families working in the restaurant. Grandchildren are now working where their grandparents got their start in the working world. A seasonal employer of over 100 people, New Glasgow has provided summer employment for many local people over its long history with many funding their education through working summers at the lobster suppers.  It is not uncommon to hear of judges, lawyers, and other professionals having had their first job washing dishes or waiting on tables at the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers.

What’s for Dinner?

Dinners are served in a large banquet style hall that has a seating capacity of 500.

Interior of New Glasgow Lobster Suppers, New Glasgow, PEI
Interior of New Glasgow Lobster Suppers in New Glasgow, PEI, Canada

Patrons order their entrée and pay for their dinners upon arrival and then are escorted to a table by a hostess.  Lobster dinners are priced based on the size of the lobster (1 lb – 4 lb lobsters are available). Tables for different sized groups are available, starting with tables for two.  Don’t expect a quiet, intimate romantic dining experience as these suppers are casual and are modeled after a church or community hall supper.

Lobster in the shell
Lobster in the shell at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers, PEI

Primarily, the number one entrée will be lobster served in the shell, hot or cold, with lots of melted butter for dipping that succulent lobster.

Dipping lobster claw in melted butter
Dipping lobster claw in melted butter at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers, PEI

However, if lobster is not your thing, a number of alternative entrée options, including chicken, steak, pasta, haddock, scallops, ham, and salmon, are available.

Bowl of seafood chowder and homemade roll at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers
Seafood Chowder from the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers in New Glasgow, PEI

All meals include appetizers of chowder or soup, steamed PEI mussels, and large puffy homemade rolls and sliced bread; salad plate (coleslaw, potato salad, and green garden salad); desserts consisting mainly of homemade pies; and non-alcoholic beverages. The facility is licenced and there are additional charges for alcoholic beverages.

Basket of homemade rolls and bread at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers
Homemade rolls and bread at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers, PEI

Dinner is a plated meal brought to the table by your server and the servers are very obliging to photograph you dressed in your plastic bib and all ready to tuck into an amazing meal. Gratuity is extra and at the patron’s discretion.

Plates of lobster and salad at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers
Plates of lobster and salads at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers in New Glasgow, PEI

Several of the restaurant’s staff have worked with the organization for years, returning year after year, a testament to how grounded New Glasgow Lobster Suppers and their staff are in the local community. At time of writing, the same baker has been making all the pies onsite at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers since 1976, often arriving at 5am.  Pastry is homemade onsite and the Suppers are well-known for their lemon pie with the mile-high meringue. It’s not uncommon for the baker to turn out 60 lemon pies on any given day….and that’s just one kind of pie available! They make a mighty fine coconut cream pie, too.

Slice of Coconut Cream Pie at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers
Coconut Cream Pie at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers

The restaurant accommodates special dietary restrictions such as gluten-free and vegan diets; however, it is always advisable to call ahead of your visit to discuss your particular dietary needs. A children’s menu is available making New Glasgow Lobster Suppers a family-friendly dining experience.

PEI has two lobster seasons with a break in between.  The first season runs from May – June and the second from August – October. To ensure a continuous supply of fresh lobster, New Glasgow Lobster Suppers has a salt-water holding tank with capacity to hold 20,000 lbs of lobster onsite at a time and is replenished throughout the season. New Glasgow Lobster Suppers buys thousands of pounds of lobster when the spring lobster season opens.  While different sizes of lobster are available, their most popular is the 1 lb lobster dinner. On average, they’ll crack open around 50,000 lbs of lobster a season.  And, of course, there are the world-famous PEI mussels that are served as an appetizer and the suppers will go through about 70,000 pounds of those in a season!

Lobster, rolls, and salad plate at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers
Lobster, rolls, and salad plate at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers

When asked what, in his opinion, sets New Glasgow Lobster Suppers apart from other similar suppers, Carl says it’s a combination of their focus on quality and freshness of food, consistency of product, and the local, friendly wait staff and table service they provide. And, he says, at the heart of it, it’s about two of the original six families working in business alongside their employees and everybody working together.  Everyone, regardless of their employment status, pitches in with the work that makes New Glasgow Lobster Suppers the experience it is to their patrons.

Salad Plate at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers
Salad Plate at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers

A visit to New Glasgow Lobster Suppers is a time-honored tradition for many Islanders and tourists alike.  Carl tells me a man was recently paying for his meal and he informed Carl that this year’s annual visit was his 40th meal at New Glasgow Lobster Suppers.  Operating seasonally from mid-May until early October, the restaurant is open seven days a week from 4pm until 8pm (8:30pm in July and August). When you go, keep an eye out for spotting celebrities.  Prime ministers, famous hockey players, and movie filmmakers, actors, and directors are known to have dined at the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers.

New Glasgow Lobster Suppers is located at 605 Route 258, in New Glasgow, PEI.  For more information, visit their website

Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers – North Rustico, PEI

Fisherman's Wharf Lobster Suppers, North Rustico, PEI
Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers, North Rustico, PEI

There is something quaint and charming about a small rural PEI town that has a working fishing harbour.  North Rustico, which also has a fine beach, has long been a treasured location for tourists, artists, and Islanders.  In close proximity to the resort municipality of Cavendish, North Rustico swells in size with visitors in the summer. In the heart of the town is a large restaurant establishment known as “Fisherman’s Wharf” that sits just on the edge of the harbour. That’s where my stop today has found me chatting with general manager, Troy Howatt, and current owner, Amy MacPherson, who along with her husband, Forbes, now owns and operates the Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers.

Preparing for Setting Day
Eve of Setting Day in the Fishing Village of North Rustico, PEI, Canada

These lobster suppers began operating in 1980 when the original owner, Albert Dow, purchased a small existing restaurant on the same location as Fisherman’s Wharf sits today.  So the story goes, Mr. Dow would see the sightseeing buses from Charlottetown pass by and wondered where they were heading and, more to the point, where they would be dining on their excursion.  It wasn’t long until those big red double-decker buses were stopping at Dow’s restaurant that began serving cafeteria-style lunches for the bus tour industry. Back in the early 1980s, the buffet lunch, including lobster, cost only $9.99.

Apart from the increase in price for the dinners, other changes have occurred at Fisherman’s Wharf over the years including an expansion of facilities to increase serving capacity. This, of course, requires a large staff which now numbers over 100 seasonal employees. The restaurant enjoys great staff loyalty as several staff members have worked at Fisherman’s Wharf for many years, including one server who has been with the restaurant since it began in 1980. Troy, himself, has worked at Fisherman’s Wharf since 1986, working his way up to become the general manager.

What’s for Dinner?

Dinners are served in a restaurant setting that has a seating capacity of 500 (two dining rooms).  As with New Glasgow Lobster Suppers, patrons order and pay for their meal before eating and are then seated by a host(ess).  The ambiance has a distinctive rustic, nautical theme in keeping with its close proximity to the harbour.  Individuals are seated at wooden tables that seat four or six.

Dining table at Fisherman's Wharf Lobster Suppers, North Rustico, PEI
Dining table at Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers, North Rustico, PEI

The suppers have maintained their self-serve buffet style that was in operation when the suppers first began serving the motor coach market which is still a major part of their clientele. It is not uncommon, as was the case during my visit, to see a large motor coach pull up to the door and unload a large group of tourists for a traditional Fisherman’s Wharf lobster supper.  When you see a block of tables with bibs on the chair backs, it’s a sign that a bus tour is imminently expected.

Lobster Bibs Awaiting Diners
Lobster Bibs Awaiting Diners at Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers, North Rustico, PEI

 

Obviously, lobster is the most popular entrée.

Lobster in the shell served with melted butter at Fisherman's Wharf Lobster Suppers
Lobster in the shell served with melted butter at Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers, North Rustico, PEI, Canada

It’s the customer’s choice to have the lobster served, in the shell, hot or cold, and, yes, there will be lots of melted butter for dipping the juicy, plump chunks of lobster.

Dipping lobster claw in melted butter
Dipping Lobster Claw in Melted Butter at Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers, North Rustico, PEI

There are plenty of alternative meal options available for those who are not lobster fans.  Steak, scallops, breaded shrimp, snow crab, haddock, and rotisserie chicken are entrée options.

Salad bar at Fisherman's Wharf Lobster Suppers
Small Segment of the 60-foot long Salad Bar at Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers in North Rustico, PEI

All meals include access to the 60-foot salad bar that, in addition to being comprised of some 30 salads, also includes seafood chowder, and mussels.

Bowl of Seafood Chowder at Fisherman's Wharf Lobster Suppers, North Rustico, PEI
Bowl of Seafood Chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers, North Rustico, PEI

Yes, those tasty PEI steamed mussels are included, too!

Steamed PEI mussels dipped in melted butter
Steamed PEI mussels dipped in melted butter at Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers

Warm homemade rolls are delivered to your table by your server who will also serve the lobster or other entrée of choice.

Basket of warm homemade rolls at Fisherman's Wharf Lobster Suppers
Basket of warm homemade rolls at Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers

Other than that, the meal is basically self-serve at your leisure.

Plate of different salads at Fisherman's Wharf Lobster Suppers
Plate of different salads at Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers

A wide variety of homemade desserts is also available and non-alcoholic beverages are included in the meal price. The facility is licenced and there are additional charges for alcoholic beverages. Gratuity is not automatically included with the meal price and is at the patron’s discretion.

Strawberry Shortcake at Fisherman's Wharf Lobster Suppers
Strawberry Shortcake at Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers in North Rustico, PEI

Fisherman’s Wharf accommodates special dietary restrictions such as gluten-free and vegan diets. To discuss specific dietary needs, it is always a good idea to call ahead of your visit. A children’s menu is available so the whole family can enjoy a meal together.

Lobsters are purchased through Island seafood wholesalers and are held until needed in the onsite lobster holding facility that is filled with sea water piped from the harbour. This allows the lobsters to maintain their fresh sea quality and taste. Various sizes of lobster are available and the most popular size is the 1½ pound lobster though they do get requests for lobsters as large as 3-4 pounds. On average, 650-750 lobsters will be cracked a day in peak tourism season and one guy cracks open every one of them, single-handedly.  I have seen him at work and those hands just fly to make short of the work!

Troy says, in his opinion, what sets Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers apart from others is their state-of-the-art kitchen and their 60-foot long salad bar which has such a huge variety, there is something for everyone.

Segment of 60-foot long salad bar at Fisherman's Wharf Lobster Suppers
Segment of 60-foot long salad bar at Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers

A visit to North Rustico would not be complete without a stop for a meal at Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers. Open daily from mid-May until early October, the restaurant serves meals from 12 noon until 8:30pm (note that hours may be reduced in the shoulder seasons). You never know who you will see at Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers. Several celebrities including those from the film industry, the hockey fame world, and politicians have been spotted dining at the restaurant.

Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers is located at 7230 Rustico Road in North Rustico, PEI. Visit their website for more information.

Tips for Dining at a PEI Lobster Supper

Dining at one of the Island’s Lobster Suppers is a unique experience.  Here are my tips for making the most of it:

      1. There is no need to dress up. These are casual dining venues. Plastic lobster bibs are available and are recommended as, even though the lobsters have been cracked open by the kitchen staff, the meat can be a bit juicy to pull out the of the shell….then there is that lovely dripping melted butter….enough said!
      2. Expect casual surroundings. You won’t be seated at tables with people you do not know but neither is it a quiet, intimate dining experience.
      3. Pace yourself and don’t over-indulge in food! This is the biggest tip of all. There is A LOT of food coming your way at an Island lobster supper. It’s easy to get carried away with the unlimited mussels, fresh rolls, and seafood chowder that start out the meal and to fill up on those.  Save room for the lobster (or alternative entrée) and the desserts.  You’ll want to sample everything.
      4. Plan to spend time at the supper and enjoy the experience. These are not fast food outlets and the meals comprise a lot of food and courses.
      5. In peak season (July and August), there may be some line-ups (especially over the 5pm – 7pm timeframe) so be patient. It gives time to work up a needed appetite for what awaits you.
      6. Don’t expect à la carte menus to be available. The meals are set menu so there is no ordering of special or particular side dishes or customizing a meal.
      7. If you have never been to a PEI lobster supper, it can be daunting when you arrive at the check-in desk and need to make a snap decision on what entrée to order or whether you want your lobster hot or cold and so forth. It’s a good idea to check out the lobster supper’s website before arrival so you have an idea of what you plan to order.
      8. While both New Glasgow Lobster Suppers and Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers can accommodate dietary restrictions, it’s always advisable to call them ahead of your visit to discuss specific dietary concerns and needs. This will help ensure a pleasant dining experience for everyone in the party.

     

    Summary

    Food at an Island lobster supper is plain, downhome hearty fare that is simply prepared.  The lobster is served straight from the shell with no additions or sauces added to it. This allows the pure authentic taste of the lobster to be enjoyed. The potato salads will be homemade and be just like most Islanders know potato salad to be and that they, themselves, make at home.

    I always recommend visitors to PEI experience an authentic and traditional lobster supper during their visit – in fact, I suggest they visit both New Glasgow Lobster Suppers and Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers.  While there are certainly similarities between them, there are some differences. The most notable is that New Glasgow Lobster Suppers offers a completely plated meal brought to your table and served to you by your server while Fisherman’s Wharf Lobster Suppers offers a 60-foot long salad-plus bar and patrons largely serve themselves with the exception of the main entrée itself. Fisherman’s Wharf serves their lobster suppers all day starting at 12 noon while New Glasgow starts their dinner service at 4:00pm.

    No matter whether you choose one or both lobster suppers, one thing is for sure, you won’t leave hungry.  Just make sure you arrive with a hearty appetite and elasticized waistbands are recommended! Then, don the plastic bib and tuck into a hearty and tasty authentic PEI lobster supper. It’s sure to be an unforgetable meal and a great memory of a PEI visit.  Once you’ve had a meal at one of our Island lobster suppers, I think it will be quite apparent why they’ve stood the test of time and have been in business for decades.

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Lobster Suppers in PEI

Rhubarb and Mango Chutney

Jars of Rhubarb and Mango Chutney
Rhubarb and Mango Chutney

This Rhubarb and Mango Chutney is a mildly spicy condiment.  Combining the tart rhubarb with the sweet fresh mango and a variety of spices produces a fabulous flavour combination that teeters between the sweet and savory.

Small bowl of Rhubarb and Mango Chutney
Rhubarb and Mango Chutney

Chutney, with origins in India, differs from a relish that tends to be sweeter. A chutney will also have a more chunky texture with pieces of fruit. Chutney tends to lean more toward the savory side of the culinary scale.

Bowl and Jars of Rhubarb and Mango Chutney
Rhubarb and Mango Chutney

A versatile condiment, chutney can be used in sandwiches either as a spread on its own or mixed with mayonnaise.  It’s a great snack or easy hors d’oeuvre when presented on a cracker with some cheese (e.g., goat cheese, Brie, or cream cheese) and some deli meat.

Cracker topped with goat cheese, deli meat, and rhubarb and mango chutney
Rhubarb and Mango Chutney tops Deli Meat and Goat Cheese on Cracker

It complements cold meats like beef, pork, and poultry and is wonderful on a charcuterie board.

Rhubarb and Mango Chutney on Charcuterie Board
Rhubarb and Mango Chutney as a Condiment on a Charcuterie and Cheese Board

This Rhubarb and Mango Chutney is also tasty when mixed with some Greek yogurt and used as a dip for fresh veggies.  I like to use it as a side to my chicken pot pie and beef pot pie and serve it as a burger condiment.  The possibilities for the use of the chutney is limited only by your imagination.

Rhubarb and Mango Chutney on Charcuterie and Cheese Board
Rhubarb and Mango Chutney on Charcuterie, Cheese, and Fruit Board

This recipe for sweet, tart, and slightly spicy Rhubarb and Mango Chutney is not difficult to make but it does take some time. A couple of stock pots as well as a hot water canner to process the jars of chutney will also be required.

Spoonful of Rhubarb and Mango Chutney
Rhubarb and Mango Chutney

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Rhubarb Mango Chutney

Ingredients:
4½ cups rhubarb (apx. 1 lb 3 oz), chopped into ¼“ pieces
½ cup red onion, finely chopped
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
½ cup minus 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp fine sea salt
1/16 tsp coriander
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp olive oil

1 mango, peeled and chopped into ¼“ pieces (apx. 1 1/3 cups)
2/3 cup golden raisins

Spice Sachet:
1 star anise
1/8 tsp mustard seed
2 whole allspice
3 whole cloves
3” piece cinnamon stick

Method:
Place rhubarb, onion, sugars, vinegar, salt, dry spices, and olive oil in medium-sized stock pot.  Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves.  Make the spice sachet by combining the star anise, mustard seed, whole allspice and cloves, and cinnamon stick into center of small square of double or triple layer of cheesecloth (depending on how open the weave of the cheesecloth is).  Draw edges of cheesecloth together to make a sachet and tie with heavy thread.  Add the spice sachet to the pot.  Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the mango and raisins and continue to simmer about 25 minutes longer, or until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally.

While the chutney is cooking, fill a large pot of water, about ¾ full.  Place 4 half-pint jars (see Note 1 below) and 1 quarter-pint jar (see Note 2 below), upright, into the water.  Ensure the jars are fully submerged, each jar filled with water, and that the water is at least an inch over the tops of the jars.  Cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the jars in the hot water while the chutney finishes cooking.

Meanwhile, fill the canner about one-third to one-half full of water. Cover and bring to a boil to have it ready for the filled jars.

When the chutney is cooked, use a jar lifter to remove the hot jars from the water.  Discard the spice sachet in the chutney. Using a glass measuring cup and a canning funnel, transfer chutney into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar.  Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Seal jars with heated lids and fingertip-tightened ring bands.

Place filled jars in hot water bath wire basket, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Carefully lower basket into canner of hot water. Some empty jars may need to be added to the basket to fill up space so the filled jars do not fall over.  Let the empty jars fill with water from the canner as they are submerged. Ensure the water level is at least 1” above the tops of jars, adding more boiling water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Increase the heat to return the water to a rolling boil then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a rolling boil but not boiling over. Process jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point where a full rolling boil is reached after basket of jars has been added to the canner. At the end of the processing time, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Wait until the water stops boiling (approximately 3-5 minutes) then, using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars, one at a time, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Let jars rest, undisturbed, on wire rack for 12 hours. Store in cool, dark place. Refrigerate chutney once opened.

Yield:  Apx. 4½ cups (4 half-pint jars and 1 quarter-pint jar)

Note 1:  You may want to sterilize an additional half-pint jar to have it ready to fill in case the recipe yields more than exactly 4½ cups of chutney.  Many factors can vary the amount of chutney produced – e.g., amount of water in the rhubarb, ripeness of the mango, temperature at which the chutney was cooked, how long it was simmered, how much it was stirred during the cooking process, and how much liquid in the chutney may have evaporated, or not.

Note 2: I generally do not process the tiny quarter-pint jar in the hot water bath because it does not need the full 10 minutes that the half-pint jars require and I prefer not to take the cover off the canner to extract the small half-cup jar mid-way through the timing of the hot water bath.  Instead, I let the small jar cool at room temperature then refrigerate it and eat its contents within a day or so because it’s hard not to taste freshly-made chutney! I call this my “tasting jar”.

Rhubarb Mango Chutney

The combination of tart rhubarb and sweet mango mixed with a variety of spices results in a Rhubarb Mango Chutney that can be enjoyed as a condiment in many different ways with meat, cheese, and charcuterie boards.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword chutney, rhubarb and mango chutney
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • cups rhubarb (apx. 1 lb 3 oz), chopped into ¼“ pieces
  • ½ cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup minus 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/16 tsp coriander
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 mango, peeled and chopped into ¼“ pieces (apx. 1 1/3 cups)
  • 2/3 cup golden raisins
  • Spice Sachet:
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/8 tsp mustard seed
  • 2 whole allspice
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 ” piece cinnamon stick

Instructions

  1. Place rhubarb, onion, sugars, vinegar, salt, dry spices, and olive oil in medium-sized stock pot. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Make the spice sachet by combining the star anise, mustard seed, whole allspice and cloves, and cinnamon stick into center of small square of double or triple layer of cheesecloth (depending on how open the weave of the cheesecloth is). Draw edges of cheesecloth together to make a sachet and tie with heavy thread. Add the spice sachet to the pot. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the mango and raisins and continue to simmer about 25 minutes longer, or until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally.
  2. While the chutney is cooking, fill a large pot of water, about ¾ full. Place 4 half-pint jars (see Note 1 below) and 1 quarter-pint jar (see Note 2 below), upright, into the water. Ensure the jars are fully submerged, each jar filled with water, and that the water is at least an inch over the tops of the jars. Cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the jars in the hot water while the chutney finishes cooking.

  3. Meanwhile, fill the canner about one-third to one-half full of water. Cover and bring to a boil to have it ready for the filled jars.
  4. When the chutney is cooked, use a jar lifter to remove the hot jars from the water. Discard the spice sachet in the chutney. Using a glass measuring cup and a canning funnel, transfer chutney into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar. Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Seal jars with heated lids and fingertip-tightened ring bands.
  5. Place filled jars in hot water bath wire basket, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Carefully lower basket into canner of hot water. Some empty jars may need to be added to the basket to fill up space so the filled jars do not fall over. Let the empty jars fill with water from the canner as they are submerged. Ensure the water level is at least 1” above the tops of jars, adding more boiling water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Increase the heat to return the water to a rolling boil then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a rolling boil but not boiling over. Process jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point where a full rolling boil is reached after basket of jars has been added to the canner. At the end of the processing time, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Wait until the water stops boiling (approximately 3-5 minutethen, using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars, one at a time, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Let jars rest, undisturbed, on wire rack for 12 hours. Store in cool, dark place. Refrigerate chutney once opened.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 4½ cups (4 half-pint jars and 1 quarter-pint jar)

Note 1: You may want to sterilize an additional half-pint jar to have it ready to fill in case the recipe yields more than exactly 4½ cups of chutney. Many factors can vary the amount of chutney produced – e.g., amount of water in the rhubarb, ripeness of the mango, temperature at which the chutney was cooked, how long it was simmered, how much it was stirred during the cooking process, and how much liquid in the chutney may have evaporated, or not.

Note 2: I generally do not process the tiny quarter-pint jar in the hot water bath because it does not need the full 10 minutes that the half-pint jars require and I prefer not to take the cover off the canner to extract the small half-cup jar mid-way through the timing of the hot water bath. Instead, I let the small jar cool at room temperature then refrigerate it and eat its contents within a day or so because it’s hard not to taste freshly-made chutney! I call this my “tasting jar”.

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Bowl of Rhubarb and Mango Chutney

Rhubarb Marmalade Recipe

Rhubarb Marmalade on Toast
Rhubarb Marmalade

Jamming and preserving season here in PEI starts with rhubarb, one of the first treats from the garden. The two crowns of rhubarb in our garden produce lots of rhubarb for use when it is in season and to freeze for later enjoyment.

Rhubarb Patch of Two Crowns
Rhubarb Patch of Two Crowns

One of the first things I make with rhubarb as soon as it is ready is this wonderful rhubarb marmalade I have been making for years.  The marmalade only takes five ingredients – rhubarb, granulated sugar, an orange,  half a pink grapefruit, and half of a lemon.  The color of the rhubarb marmalade is a lovely deep shade and its flavour is fresh and slightly tart.

Bowl of Rhubarb Marmalade
Rhubarb Marmalade

Tips for making rhubarb marmalade:

  • Choose rhubarb stalks that are slender as marmalade is best made with smaller pieces of rhubarb. Stalks that are a bright red color will yield a marmalade with a richer, deeper color.
  • Prepare all the fruit before beginning to make the marmalade – chop the rhubarb, prepare the citrus fruit, and measure the sugar.
  • Set out all the pots and hot water canner needed.
  • Organize the process.  Begin cooking the marmalade. While it is cooking, get the bottles sterilizing in hot water, and the water heating in the canner so that it will be ready to process the marmalade as soon as it is bottled.
  • Cook the marmalade to a sustained temperature of at least 217°F (to a maximum of 220°F) on a candy thermometer. If a candy thermometer is not available to test marmalade doneness, place a couple of freezer-safe saucers in the freezer.  This method of testing is explained in the recipe.
  • Don’t overcook the marmalade as it will become very thick and dark in color. Cooking the marmalade to 217°F on a candy thermometer will yield a more pliable spread while cooking it to a temperature of 220°F will produce a thicker marmalade.
Jar of Rhubarb Marmalade surrounded by ingredients
Rhubarb Marmalade

Serve this tasty rhubarb marmalade with biscuits, scones, toast, or crackers.  Add a dollop to Greek yogurt or custard for a tasty dessert.

Jars of Rhubarb Marmalade
Rhubarb Marmalade

You’ll find many tasty, creative ways to enjoy this special treat!

Spoonful of rhubarb marmalade
Rhubarb Marmalade

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Rhubarb Marmalade

Ingredients:

8 cups rhubarb, thinly sliced into pieces between 1/8’ and ¼“ thick
4¼ cups sugar
1 large orange (or 1½ small oranges)
½ pink grapefruit
½ small lemon

Method:

Wash the orange, grapefruit, and lemon well.

Peel orange, grapefruit, and lemon.  Chop the pulp, remove and discard any seeds, and place pulp in bowl.  Scrape the pith from the fruit peelings and discard.  Chop the peel into small pieces.  Set aside.

In a large pot, place the rhubarb and sugar.  Add the citrus pulp and peel. Bring to a boil over medium high temperature, stirring to prevent scorching.  Immediately lower the temperature and cook, uncovered, at a slow gentle boil until mixture thickens and reaches a sustained temperature of  217°F on a candy thermometer (see Note below for alternative testing method).  Stir mixture regularly to prevent scorching. Be patient, this can take an hour or so. The marmalade may be cooked to a temperature of 220°F but it will be a thicker marmalade and less pliable to spread than if it is cooked to 217°F.

While the marmalade is cooking, fill a large pot of water, about ¾ full.  Place 7 half-pint jars, upright, into the water.  Ensure the jars are fully submerged, each jar filled with water, and that the water is at least an inch over the tops of the jars.  Cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the jars in the hot water while the marmalade finishes cooking.

Meanwhile, fill the hot water canner about one-third to one-half full of water. Cover and bring to a boil to have it ready for the filled jars.

When the marmalade is cooked, use a jar lifter to remove the hot jars from the water.  Using a canning funnel, pour marmalade into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar.  Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Seal jars with heated lids and fingertip-tightened ring bands.

Place jars in hot water bath wire basket, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Carefully lower basket into canner of hot water. Ensure the water level is at least 1” above the tops of jars, adding more boiling water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Increase the heat to return the water to a rolling boil then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a rolling boil but not boiling over. Process half-pint jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point where a full rolling boil is reached after basket of jars has been added to the canner. At the end of the processing time, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Wait 4-5 minutes, until the water stops boiling then, using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars, one at a time, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Let jars rest, undisturbed, on wire rack for 12 hours. Store in cool, dark place. Refrigerate marmalade once opened.

Yield:  Apx. 7 half-pint bottles

NOTE 1: If you don’t have a candy thermometer, place 2-3 freezer-safe saucers in freezer. To test for doneness of the marmalade, place a small amount of marmalade on chilled saucer and swirl saucer around. Let marmalade sit, untouched, for about a minute, then gently push your finger through the marmalade.  If the marmalade holds its shape (i.e., does not immediately run back together after the finger has been removed from the marmalade), it is set and ready to bottle.  If not, continue to cook mixture, repeating the “chill” test about every 3 minutes or so (always removing the pot from the heat while conducting the chill test) until the marmalade passes the “chill” test.  Do not overcook as it will result in a very thick marmalade, dark in color.

Note 2: After jars have completely cooled, if there are any on which the lids have not curved downward, refrigerate them and use within one month.

Rhubarb Marmalade

A delicious marmalade made with rhubarb and citrus undertones. Perfect on biscuits, scones, and toast.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword rhubarb, rhubarb marmalade
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 8 cups rhubarb, thinly sliced into pieces between 1/8’ and ¼“ thick
  • cups sugar
  • 1 large orange (or 1½ small oranges)
  • ½ pink grapefruit
  • ½ small lemon

Instructions

  1. Wash the orange, grapefruit, and lemon well.
  2. Peel orange, grapefruit, and lemon. Chop the pulp, remove and discard any seeds, and place pulp in bowl. Scrape the pith from the fruit peelings and discard. Chop the peel into small pieces. Set aside.
  3. In a large pot, place the rhubarb and sugar. Add the citrus pulp and peel. Bring to a boil over medium high temperature, stirring to prevent scorching. Immediately lower the temperature and cook, uncovered, at a slow gentle boil until mixture thickens and reaches a sustained temperature of 217°F on a candy thermometer (see Note below for alternative testing method). Stir mixture regularly to prevent scorching. Be patient, this can take an hour or so. The marmalade may be cooked to a temperature of 220°F but it will be a thicker marmalade and less pliable to spread than if it is cooked to 217°F.

  4. While the marmalade is cooking, fill a large pot of water, about ¾ full. Place 7 half-pint jars, upright, into the water. Ensure the jars are fully submerged, each jar filled with water, and that the water is at least an inch over the tops of the jars. Cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the jars in the hot water while the marmalade finishes cooking.
  5. Meanwhile, fill the hot water canner about one-third to one-half full of water. Cover and bring to a boil to have it ready for the filled jars.

  6. When the marmalade is cooked, use a jar lifter to remove the hot jars from the water. Using a canning funnel, pour marmalade into sterilized jars, leaving about ¼” headroom in each jar. Wipe the jar rims with a clean cloth. Seal jars with heated lids and fingertip-tightened ring bands.
  7. Place jars in hot water bath wire basket, ensuring jars do not touch each other or fall over. Carefully lower basket into canner of hot water. Ensure the water level is at least 1” above the tops of jars, adding more boiling water as necessary. Cover with canner lid. Increase the heat to return the water to a rolling boil then decrease the heat to just keep the water at a rolling boil but not boiling over. Process half-pint jars in the hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting time for altitude. Start timing the processing from the point where a full rolling boil is reached after basket of jars has been added to the canner. At the end of the processing time, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Wait 4-5 minutes, until the water stops boiling then, using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars, one at a time, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Listen for the “pop” or “ping” sound as the bottles seal over the next few minutes or hours. The lids of properly sealed jars will curve downward. Let jars rest, undisturbed, on wire rack for 12 hours. Store in cool, dark place. Refrigerate marmalade once opened.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 7 half-pint bottles

NOTE 1: If you don’t have a candy thermometer, place 2-3 freezer-safe saucers in freezer. To test for doneness of the marmalade, place a small amount of marmalade on chilled saucer and swirl saucer around. Let marmalade sit, untouched, for about a minute, then gently push your finger through the marmalade. If the marmalade holds its shape (i.e., does not immediately run back together after the finger has been removed from the marmalade), it is set and ready to bottle. If not, continue to cook mixture, repeating the “chill” test about every 3 minutes or so (always removing the pot from the heat while conducting the chill test) until the marmalade passes the “chill” test. Do not overcook as it will result in a very thick marmalade, dark in color.

Note 2: After jars have completely cooled, if there are any on which the lids have not curved downward, refrigerate them and use within one month.

For other tasty marmalade recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Peach Marmalade
Green Tomato Marmalade

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Rhubarb Marmalade
Rhubarb Marmalade

 

Old-fashioned Stewed Rhubarb

Bowl of Stewed Rhubarb
Stewed Rhubarb

Old-fashioned stewed rhubarb is so simple to make and so tasty.  During my growing up years, stewed rhubarb was a staple in the refrigerator during rhubarb season.  My mother and grandmother both cooked the rhubarb slowly in a water and sugar mixture in the oven.  This helped to retain the shape of the rhubarb and also its lovely rosy color.  Cooking it on the stove, or in the oven at a higher temperature, would turn the rhubarb into sauce which is entirely different from this stewed rhubarb recipe.

While neither my mother or grandmother added anything to their stewed rhubarb, I add a small amount of pulp-free orange juice and a sprinkle of nutmeg which I think enhances the syrup in which the rhubarb is stewed and with which it is served.

Close-up of bowl of stewed rhubarb
Stewed Rhubarb

My grandmother would often serve this stewed rhubarb with biscuits made with homemade cream and slathered with homemade butter.  She lived on a farm so had fresh cream daily and it was used liberally.  Stewed rhubarb would often be dessert after supper.

Bowl of stewed rhubarb served with homemade biscuits and a cup of tea
Stewed Rhubarb

I freeze a lot of rhubarb for winter usage and will often have a dish of stewed rhubarb in the fridge any time over the year because it can easily be made with frozen rhubarb.

Two glass bowls of stewed rhubarb
Stewed Rhubarb

 

Made with only five basic ingredients, it doesn’t get much simpler (or more tasty) than Old-fashioned Stewed Rhubarb.

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

Stewed Rhubarb

Ingredients:

1 lb rhubarb, chopped into ¾“ pieces (approximately 3¾ cups chopped)
¾ cup hot water
1 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1½ tbsp pulp-free orange juice
1/8 tsp nutmeg

Method:

Preheat oven to 235°F oven.

In small saucepan over medium high heat, bring the hot water and sugar to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for 4 minutes.

Place rhubarb in casserole (apx. 2-quart size).  Add the orange juice and nutmeg to the hot water and sugar mixture and pour over the rhubarb.  Cover and place in oven for approximately 55-65 minutes, or until rhubarb is fork tender.  Do not overcook or rhubarb will lose its shape and turn into sauce.

Yield:  Apx. 5-6 servings

Stewed Rhubarb

Ruby red rhubarb stewed slowed in the oven to retain its shape and color makes a wonderful light dessert, especially when served with homemade biscuits. May be made with either fresh or frozen rhubarb.
Course Dessert
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword rhubarb
Servings 6
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 lb rhubarb, chopped into ¾“ pieces (approximately 3¾ cups chopped)
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • tbsp pulp-free orange juice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 235°F oven.
  2. In small saucepan over medium high heat, bring the hot water and sugar to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for 4 minutes.
  3. Place rhubarb in casserole (apx. 2-quart size). Add the orange juice and nutmeg to the hot water and sugar mixture and pour over the rhubarb. Cover and place in oven for approximately 55-65 minutes, or until rhubarb is fork tender. Do not overcook or rhubarb will lose its shape and turn into sauce.

Recipe Notes

Yield: Apx. 5-6 servings

 

For other great rhubarb dessert recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, click on the links below:

Rhubarb Custard Torte
Rhubarb Pudding Cake
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Rhubarb Pie

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