I’ve been making marmalades for months now. There have been oranges, lemons, tangerines, kumquats, grapefruit and pomelos scattered all over every surface in kitchen. Every time I finish with one case of citrus, I’ll swear to myself that I’m not doing any more marmalades because I’m so sick of finely slicing things… and then about two days will pass, I’ll forget my vow, and then decide it’s a good idea to do something idiotic like make 40 jars of kumquat marmalade. (About 5 minutes after I start, I remember that I totally meant to not go down that road again, but since I don’t like wasting things I end up powering through several cases of kumquats and getting a bunch of calluses on my fingers from all the knife-work.)
After this whole marmalade saga, I can say that as of right now, I’m officially down to one last single lemon. If you see me at a farmers market, please just say:
LISTEN. DON’T DO IT. IT’S NOT WORTH IT. STAY AWAY FROM THE ORANGES.
(But just writing that, I start thinking – ah, but I don’t really have enough blood orange things in jars, and I never got to do anything with those rangpur limes that Shae keeps raving about , so I can basically guarantee that I’m going to continue down this destructive path of citrus addiction for atleast another month or two.)
I’m trying though! See? This rhubarb jam is completely different from all of the elaborate marmalades I’ve been working on. It’s just plain rhubarb, no bells and whistles at all. I wanted to make something that was bright and clean tasting and completely true to the flavor of the fruit. So the rhubarb ends up doing this sweet-tart thing that’s so, so tasty…. This is, without a doubt, in my top 5 favorite preserves. I want to put it on everything. I like it so much that I’m pretty sure I’m going to put in a twenty foot row of rhubarb in the garden so that I can really have enough to play with. Rhubarb Jam
This recipe is my own, but very much inspired by the methods used in the Blue Chair Fruit cookbook and the vibrant colors of the jam over at INNA Jam, which I’ve never tasted before but I’ve stared at a lot on the internet.
Makes: a little more than 5 half pint jars
- 3 1/4 lbs. rhubarb
- 4 c. sugar
- lemon juice to taste, around 1/4 c.
Remove the leaves from the rhubarb stalks and discard. Wash the stalks. Slice the stalks into small pieces about 1/2″ wide. In a nonreactive container (like a large tupperware or glass bowl), combine the chopped rhubarb and the sugar. Cover. Put the container in the fridge for a day or two to macerate.
Cook the jam: Bring boiling water canner to a boil. Put the rhubarb mixture into a wide, heavy-bottomed pot. Cook on high heat, stirring occasionally. Try to be gentle when you stir so you keep some chunks of rhubarb; the pieces are very tender and fall apart very easily. I didn’t use a thermometer when I cooked this; I noticed that the jam visibly thickened more than it really looked like it had gelled. The rhubarb will start wanting to stick to the bottom of the pot towards the very end of the cooking time, so make sure to keep stirring and keep a close eye on it towards the end of the cooking time. It ends up being a soft set jam, but the texture is wonderful, thick enough. Add in the lemon juice towards the end of the cooking time, going about a tablespoon at a time. I wanted this to be pretty tart, so I put in a lot, but you don’t have to use as much as I did. It’s fine to turn off the jam, let it sit for a minute, taste it, and stir in a little more lemon juice if it needs a more brightness.
Ladle cooked jam into clean jars leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars completely clean and screw on lids. Process for 10 minutes, remembering to adjust for altitude if necessary.
NOTE: I like how simple this recipe is, but you could certainly use it as a starting point and add some other flavorings in. Future batches might have things like candied ginger, orange zest, lavender, etc. mixed in, but I wanted something simple before I pulled out all the fancy stuff.