May 30, 2010

Rhubarb Jam

The rhubarb plant is a magnificent specimen, with enormous ruffly leaves hiding a brilliant treasure. When I moved to this house, there was some rhubarb growing next to the stone wall in the backyard; it was an old fashioned variety, with very sour green stalks. I planted this red rhubarb, which in addition to making pretty sauces, pies and jam, is a bit less tart. Its location alongside the compost pile is perfect for a big, hungry plant.

Rhubarb stalks, which are classed as a vegetable but we think of as a fruit, are the only edible part of the plant. The sweet/tart flavor of rhubarb desserts isn't for everyone, but if you love rhubarb as I do, then making jam is an essential rite of the season.

The recipe for rhubarb jam is very simple:

4 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1 inch lengths
4 pounds sugar
  1. Layer rhubarb and sugar in a large bowl and let sit overnight. Above is a photo of the sugar beginning to draw the juice from the rhubarb the next morning, the bits of fruit looking like jewels strewn in icy snow.
  2. Put the rhubarb sugar mixture in a large pot (I use stainless), bring to a boil, then cook at a rolling boil till thick, about 1 hour.
  3. Since I've made a lot of jam, I can tell when it's thick enough to set. I don't find candy thermometers useful, but a good method is the refrigerator test: put a bit of jam on a plate and put in the freezer for 5 minutes; if it sets, it is ready.
  4. Put into pint jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. If you are without a canner, I think freezing would also work.
The recipe makes about 5 pints of delicious ruby-red jam.


  1. I love the look of rhubarb, but not the flavor. Certainly one of the most dramatic plants in the veggie garden (or the flower garden for that matter). It definitely looks jewel-like swimming in that foamy sugar solution. Reminds me a bit of fruit pieces in solid color jello!

  2. Mmmmm... I think this looks rather wonderful Altoon... all those bottles of jam proudly lined up. I enjoy the place Rhubarb takes you to when you taste it...
    it has a note all its own.
    Recently, at a good art-cinema, I indulged in their rhubarb ice cream with good choc coating, and can I say, wonderful!

  3. Sophie, that ice cream sounds fantastic, maybe it would even tempt Linda, who doesn't care for the taste of rhubarb.

  4. awesome! thank you for sharing.

  5. I love rhubarb; how it nudges through the ground with red tips, the spread of its leaves as it grows,, and rhubarb sauce is a delight to my taste buds. I use less sugar, just boil it til soft adding an apple maybe or last night's batch had a bit of candied ginger. Yum! Your photos are lovely.