The season of rhubarb…

A good friend of ours recently made us one of the best muffins we have ever tasted – rhubarb and apple (vegan muffins!). We were discussing about how he bought an overload of rhubarb as this is the season (May!) to have them. I often refer to Eat Seasonably website to see what’s in season and after being inspired by Richard’s muffins, I decided to have a go at making something with rhubarb before the season’s out.

Each fruit or vegetable has a prime time when it’s at its seasonal best. That means extra flavour, extra crunch, extra juiciness – all super-fresh and great value.

Eat Seasonably website

Having made rhubarb crumble before, I decided to try and make rhubarb jam after Shuhan from Mummyicancook mentioned about them. I always love the home made jams, marmalade and chutneys made by the dude’s family. Perhaps it was done with love or maybe the handmade element of it all makes it so much tastier than those you get at the supermarket.

I had a lot of qualms on my ‘virgin’ try at jam making. The whole sterilising of jars and ensuring that it’s properly sealed freaked me out at the beginning. I had some advice from a fellow food blogger* on twitter during the jam making process which calmed me down a little. It was as simple as washing the jam jars in hot soapy water before putting them in a low oven, as advised. It didn’t turn out as hard as I thought!

Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam Recipe:

To make 3 lb. worth of jam,
1kg rhubarb – cut into 3cm chunks
1kg jam sugar (or 1kg caster sugar & 1 x 8g sachet of pectin)
2 vanilla pods halved lengthways
juice of 1 lemon

3 x 1lb jam jars

(Recipe adapted from BBC good food)

Place the rhubarb into a large saucepan with the jam sugar and vanilla pods. Meanwhile, place a bowl or small plate in the freezer.

Heat gently, stirring constantly until all the sugar are dissolved. Ensure at this point that the heat is not too high as this may cause the sugar to burn.

Once all the sugar is dissolved, pour in the lemon juice and increase the heat. Boil for around 10 minutes. The rhubarb should be soft by now.

Test for setting point by spooning a little of the solution onto the chilled bowl or plate. Let it cool back in the fridge, then push it with your finger – if a crinkly skin has formed on the jam, then it has set. It if hasn’t continue to boil for another 2-3 minutes, then do another test. If you have a sugar thermometer, it should reach 105 deg C.

When the jam is ready, let it cool for about 15 mins before pouring into clean, dry, hot jars and filling them as near to the top as possible. Place a waxed disc (baking paper) over the surface and then seal with the lid. Wipe the jars with warm, damp cloth.

*Some key tips from Delia’s ten steps to jam making which I found useful (after making the jam that is!)

– The sugar should be completely dissolved before the jam reaches the boil, otherwise it will be difficult to set and the finished jam will be sugary. To test if the sugar is dissolved, dip a wooden spoon in, turn it over and if no sugar crystals are visible in the liquid that coats the back of the spoon, it has indeed dissolved. (To be quite sure, stir well and repeat this test a couple of times.) To speed up the dissolving process, you can warm the sugar in a bowl in the oven before adding it.

– Don’t worry about any scum that rises to the surface while the jam is boiling – if you keep skimming it off, you’ll finish with no jam at all! Instead, wait until you have a set, then remove the jam from the heat and stir in a small lump of butter, which will disperse the scum.

(I wished I read this before hand as I skimmed off quite a bit of the jam!)

– If things go wrong: if the jam hasn’t set after cooling and potting, tip it all back into the pan and boil again, adding the juice of a small lemon; if mould develops on the surface of jam in a jar, remove it with a spoon, along with about half an inch (1 cm) of the jam underneath – rest assured, the rest of the jam will not be affected – and place a waxed disc dipped in brandy on top.

There were some things that I missed out, for example, placing a waxed disc on top of the jam. A few advice were found on the world wide web on how to create that vacuum in the jam jar – example, turning the jar over etc. It was quite confusing for me at the beginning but overall, it was quite an easy process and for a first timer, I think the jam turned out quite well. I am definitely going to be trying out more jams, chutneys and marmalade soon!

Like they all say, practice makes perfect!

*Thank you Jason of Feast to the World for the advice on twitter!

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12 thoughts on “The season of rhubarb…

  1. Hi Jam Maker, I like making preserves too and when the mixture is ready I fill the jars with the hot jam or marmalade and screw the lid on tightly and then turn it upside down to cool. The heat of the jam sterilises the cap and draws a vacuum so there is no worry about mould growing. Good luck from an Antipodean devoted to cumquat marmalade. VW

    • Dear Antipodean devoted to kumquat marmalade,

      I am a BIG FAN of your kumquat marmalade! It’s good to know about turning the jar upside down as Charles kept asking me to flip it over when I first scooped the jam into the sterilised jar. Do you sterilise the lid before hand as well?

  2. that is just brilliant wendee! Especially love all your little tips at the end, spoken from true experience! I hardly make jam, just compotes i.e. just boil fruit with a bit of sugar, stew it down and store, I usually finish it within a week anyway, so don’t bother with sterilising etc. But if I ever do decide to make a big batch because I receive a lucky basket of fruits (or rhubarb), I’m going to be referring to this page for sure. In fact, bookmarked it. Super helpful!

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