Portion/Yield:Makes about 3 x 200g jars
Making jams and preserves is not only satisfying but it also tells its own seasonal story, and I believe there is a jam for every season. The beauty of forced rhubarb is that the skin is tender so it does not need peeling. It is the tender stems that produce the most beautiful pink colour and fragrant flavour.
As rhubarb is a vegetable and does not contain natural pectin, pectin-rich jam sugar is required for making this jam. Another secret to the success of this bright pink jam is the speed by which it must be cooked. The longer the jam stews and boils, the earthier the taste and browner the colour, so cook it quickly over a high heat and have all your equipment ready before you start. I would also not recommend cooking this jam in large batches; it will destroy the colour and the lovely fresh fragrance that you get from a small batch.
I finish the jam with a little lemon juice to refresh the taste and bring out the sharpness of the rhubarb. I have also added vanilla to accentuate the floral tones in this jam, but if you prefer something spicy, add 6 toasted cardamom pods instead.
Ingredients & Method
- 400g new season forced rhubarb, washed, drained and cut into 1cm pieces
- 400g jam sugar
- 1 tablespoon boiling water
- 1 vanilla pod
- juice of 1/2 lemon
Place the rhubarb, sugar and boiling water in a heavy-based saucepan. Split the vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds into the pan, then add the pod to the pan as well for extra flavour.
Cook over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then turn the heat up to high and bring the mixture to the boil. Boil rapidly for 10–12 minutes or until the jam reaches a temperature of 105°C (setting point), stirring every now and then to prevent it from catching. If you don’t have a jam thermometer, check to see if setting point has been reached by spooning a little of the jam on to a chilled small plate. Push a finger across the jam; if the surface wrinkles and it is beginning to set, it has reached setting point. If not, boil it for a further 5 minutes or so and test again. Remember, the longer you cook the jam, the darker and browner the colour will become and the earthier the flavour.
Once the jam has reached setting point, stir in the lemon juice, then remove from the heat and allow the jam to cool slightly. Remove and discard the vanilla pod, then carefully pour the jam into hot, sterilised jars. Cover with wax discs (wax-side down) and seal. When cold, label and store in a cool, dry cupboard. The jam should keep well for a year or so. Once opened, keep in the fridge and use within 1 month.