In May 1913, the Australian Town and Country Journal published in its ‘Questions Answered’ column this response to an inquiry by G.F.T. of Inverell for a recipe for rosella chutney:
Rosella chutney may be made as follows:— Pack sufficient rosellas into a preserving jar. After packing them, pour over enough boiled spiced vinegar, sweeten with sugar to taste, and season with a teaspoonful of salt. Fasten down at once.
It wasn’t the first instance of the culinary use of rosella. Rosella Jam was one of the Vegetable Products to be exhibited by Queensland at the 1862 London International Exhibition. Mrs Lance Rawson published recipes for Rosella Jelly and Rosella Jam in her 1895 cookery book The Antipodean Cookery Book and Kitchen Companion.
Neither was it the first published recipe for chutney in Australia. Edward Abbott published two chutney recipes – one for Indian Chutney and one for English Chutney – in his 1864 book The English and Australian Cookery Book: Cookery for the Many, as well as the Upper Ten Thousand – by an Australian Aristologist.
I came across the letter when researching chutney in Australia as part of my project to broaden the understanding of Australian cuisine in early modern Australia, to write differently about it, to challenge the view that it was all meat and three bland British veg. I have previously written on this about chili and tamarind .While researching both of these chutney kept pressing its claim to be my next article.