Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rhubarb Jam

If you have been reading the last few posts, you know that I have a little bit of a rhubarb problem. About twenty pounds of a rhubarb problem, actually. Lucky for me, this month's Tigress' Can Jam the chosen item is rhubarb, along with asparagus (which I ended up eating already!), picked by Sarah over at Toronto Tasting Notes. My biggest haul at once was just over 12 pounds from a local organic farm in Accord, NY. I admit, it was a little daunting once I starting working with it. Four pounds were chopped and immediately put in the freezer. Four more pounds were simmered, strained, with juice and the pulp frozen separately for later uses. Another four were used for this jam.

I haven't opened Mes Confitures since my winter obsession with it, and it was fun to dive back in, especially since there are so many rhubarb combinations. This recipe hooked me because of its execution. Over the summer a friend gave me a jar of incredible rhubarb ginger jam from Ethel's Kitchen in Martha's Vineyard. It was incredible; big chunks of rhubarb held their shape in a soft sea of stewed rhubarb. Whenever I have made rhubarb jam, it breaks down completely, and I've found that this technique is the way around that.

Now, if you are familiar with Christine Ferber's Mes Confitures you will know that it's often cryptic. And a lot of the recipes are incredibly sweet. This recipe is no different. What's cryptic is that there is no pectin in it: zero. Rhubarb doesn't have any natural pectin, there's no added pectin, and no apples or other high pectin fruit. I knew going in that I wouldn't get a jell at all, but in the future I think I will add pectin (for those who are interested, I would add Pomona's: 2 t of each calcium water and pectin). I'm not sure if this is a morning on your toast kind of confiture. It's really more of a confection than a spread. I would drizzle this on top of ice cream or a dessert. It's really a syrup with fruit suspended in it.

I used this incredibly thin, delicate, red rhubarb that I received from the generous Meghan Murphy, a journalist, who also runs the Hudson Valley Food Network (If you are local, this is a great site to join if you want to keep abreast of the farm to table scene. It's also a great resource if you are visiting the area!) I had posted on the site that I was looking for rhubarb, and she kindly found me some. The small diced chunks are a perfect texture; the maceration shrivels them and I find them, may I say it? Toothsome.

Rhubarb Jam adapted from Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber

2 3/4 pounds rhubarb (the recipe asks for 2 1/4 pounds net, but this is the amount I used)
3 cups sugar (recipe calls for 3 3/4 cups)
2 T lemon juice (recipe calls for 2 T)

Make a small dice with the rhubarb. Macerate with sugar and lemon over night in a ceramic bowl covered with parchment paper.

Strain the syrupy juice and bring it to a boil in a heavy pan. Bring it to 221 degrees on a candy thermometer. Add diced rhubarb. Return to a boil, mixing gently. Skim. (I didn't skim, and it did leave me with some foamy bubbles in the jam.) Continue cooking on high for five minutes, stirring. Put jam in hot jars and seal. Process for ten minutes, turn off the heat and let sit for five more minutes.

Note: Ferber does not water process so this processing time was my guess. I think it's fine, due to the high acid content in rhubarb, plus the lemon, but do be advised this is not a tested recipe for water bath canning.

So, now I have a few more pounds of rhubarb left, and the strawberries just started ripening. I'm blown away by how many I am getting. I picked a quart this morning, and that's with my son eating quite a bit. I'm sure there's going to be a good strawberry rhubarb jam recipe I can use from the Can Jam this month!


  1. I'm always wishing the rhubarb would hold its shape more than it does. Thanks.

  2. Your jar of jam looks absolutely fantastic. Such a great colour.

  3. Lovely looking rhubarb. I still haven't boarded the rhubarb train, am thinking of it daily- so really need to sort this out. Your strawberries look lovely! Slugs thought mine did too :-(

  4. we don't have a lot of local sources for rhubarb down here, so consider yourself lucky! i love ferber's book as well and plan to do much more with it this summer-love the post and photos!

  5. Denise - Yeah, I should call Ethel and ask her what she does. But this does work.

    Gloria - Thanks! I'm still going to make your ketchup though. Even if it wasn't the color you wanted.

    Chfg- Sorry about your strawberries. I keep on thanking my lucky stars that I've been spared marauding animals/bugs with mine! They aren't even fenced in!

    Cosmic Cowgirl - Thank you! Your jelly came out just gorgeous!

  6. 20 pounds of rhubarb - I'm jealous! The color looks really nice - but here's my question. Don't you peel the rhubarb? I have no idea if I HAVE to peel it, but I always do it because that's what my mother taught me. And of course, if you peel it, the nice red color is gone...

  7. So much is fabulous about this posting: Love Mes Confitures! The "toothy"-ness of your jam looks amazing, and the amount of Rhubarb you've been working with (since I'm new to it) is daunting. Great job!

  8. Ah, I wish I were a rhubarb person - this looks so lovely! All the wonderful recipes I'm seeing may make me give it a second chance. :-)

  9. ap269 - You would need 20 pounds of rhubarb with all that you've made, Andrea!! I do not peel it, though I know some do. Of course, if your mom did it you are going to, right? My mom never peeled it!

    Cathy - Thanks! I'm just loving all this rhubarb. I'm glad you're trying it out--hope it's a new found friend.

    RJ - Well, some things we just don't like, right? I'm like that though, in that I *want* to like things, and I try to, but it's just not in the cards. Here's a secret: asparagus is not my favorite vegetable! Try as I might. I love the taste, but just don't like the texture. Sigh.

  10. That is interesting. I made rhubarb jam same method and mine thickened up just like preserves. I don't like that jelly consistency so maybe we just have a different definition of thick. Super yummy though! I wish you were closer, I'd take your asparagus.

  11. I am stone in love with that photo of your macerating rhubarb. It just sings of spring to me. I always learn something from your posts -- this time, that rhubarb has zero pectin. Also, that we feel the same about asparagus. :-)

  12. I love this method, the toothsome (I'm adopting this as word of the month) chunks floating in a syrupy gorgeous goo. I'm green (leaved) with strawberry envy. Our first "harvest" consisted of a single, albeit lovely fruit.

  13. Love the ferber-recipe comments too! The jam looks lovely with the chunks floating! (hmm, that might not sound right to some, but it is awesome!)
    And, you mentioned on someone else's blog a rhubarb strawberry gin fizz? Please, oh please tell me how!

  14. Annette - Yeah, I like a firm jell. This is thick but still a syrup as far my definitions go. I find ways to eat asparagus. I have to puree it!

    Shae - Really, no go on asparagus too? Like I say, I'll eat it and enjoy it but it has to be pureed. It sort of makes no sense, but that is what makes us people so interesting, right? RE: the zero pectin, well, I sort of made that up. Rhubarb may have pectin, but not very much by any means. However, I should shut my trap if I'm not positive!

    Kate - I love that word! Hope I'm not overdoing it. Anyhoo, at least you got one good strawberry. That's the thing about fruit, takes so long to reap the rewards. But strawberries will reward you in time. Or you can go to a u-pick place!

    Meg - Haha! Um, the gin fizz was just 2 ounces of gin, 1 ounce of rhubarb syrup mixed with ice, strained, then topped with strawberry slices and seltzer. Maybe an ice cube or two if needed. yum!

  15. Careful with that entire sweets sweetie! I hope you have a regular check up with your Dentists. Ft Lauderdale is a fun place to take off and to enjoy sweets and festivities along the shore line. My Dad loves the place because it heals and eases all his pains, especially when he discovered Fort Lauderdale Sedation Dentistry that relieved his horrible tooth ache and saved our family vacation.