How to Make Rhubarb Jam

by Cynthia Au

Start to Finish: 30 minutes, plus canning or cooling time

Servings: 1 1/2 pounds of jam

Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate

Rhubarb, despite the fact that it’s a vegetable, is treated much like a fruit. The naturally sour taste of rhubarb means it requires a lot of sugar to be sweet enough to make a jam. Only the stalks are used, as the leaves are poisonous. While rhubarb jam has a rich, deep flavor, the sweet tartness of the condiment also works well with ginger, which gives the jam a gentle kick. This recipe is adapted from Bernardin and the BBC.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups rhubarb stalks, trimmed
  • 6 cups white sugar
  • 2 1/2 inches of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter, unsalted
  • 1 package liquid pectin

Directions

Mix the rhubarb, half the sugar, the ginger, lemon zest and lemon peel in a non-reactive pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or a lid, and let it rest 2 hours. Stir occasionally to encourage the rhubarb to release its natural juices.

Add the remaining sugar to the pot, stirring until it is fully dissolved. Bring the mixture to a fast, rolling boil over high heat.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of butter and stir it in. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Skim off any foam that develops on the surface of the rhubarb mix.

Tips

  • The butter reduces foaming, but it is optional. Without the butter, you may need to skim off more foam.

Transfer the hot rhubarb mix to a blender, and pulse blend it for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Pour the puree though a fine metal strainer, pushing the puree through the strainer with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, and back into the pot.

Bring the puree to a fast boil on medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Cook until the puree is hot enough so that it continues boiling while you are stirring.

Add one package of liquid pectin to the puree, stirring constantly. Bring the puree to a boil and cook for 1 minute.

Remove the pot from the heat, skim off any excess foam, and ladle the jam into sterilized glass jars. Seal and store it in the fridge for up to three months.

Additional Suggestions

For longer term storage, can the jam after transferring it to sterilized jars. After canning, store the jam in a dry, cool, dark place for up to one year.

Liquid pectin does not require as much cooking time as pectin crystals do. Do not substitute liquid pectin for pectin crystals or for light or no-sugar pectin.

Variations

Rhubarb jam, because of its natural tartness, pairs well with other fruits. While strawberry and rhubarb are a classic combination, pineapple and rhubarb makes for a tangy, but sweet tropical fruit jam.

For a less spicy version, replace the ginger with the seeds from two scraped vanilla pods to make vanilla rhubarb jam. Rhubarb jam can also be flavored with other spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg or allspice. Add the spices -- whole dried or as a powder -- to the rhubarb during the first cooking stage.

About the Author

Cynthia Au has studied at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and currently works as a chef instructor specializing in food styling. She has worked as a writer and editor with a focus on food and food science since 2007 and regularly teaches both adults and young children about the joys of home cooking.