How to Make Rhubarb Jam & Rhubarb Jelly

In just an hour, beautiful jars of rhubarb jam & jelly

When my sister and I were girls, on hot June days, our mom would send us with a bowl of sugar to the back step where her rhubarb patch was within arms' reach. Ruby stalk by ruby stalk, we'd wipe off the most evident dirt with our fingers, then dip -- and dip and dip -- the rhubarb into the bowl to sweeten each tart biteful. When I was home last summer, I rescued the last bits of Mom's Roundup-ravaged rhubarb from the back step and planted it in my own garden. Some years must pass before my rhubarb plants will qualify as a patch but someday, I'll sugar my very own rhubarb.

It’s oh-so-easy to make rhubarb jam and jelly. Allow only an hour to make both of these at the same time. And when the jars are lined up so pretty on the counter, how proud you’ll feel!

Collect six to eight half-pint canning jars, lids and rims. It’s fine to reuse good-condition jars and rims but the lids must be new. This time of year, grocery stores and hardware stores sell jars (along with lids and rims) by the case.

The trick is to fill sterilized very hot jars with very hot liquid, then let the jar and lid technology go to work. If you inspect the underside of a lid, you’ll see a narrow band of rubber. When hot liquid meets hot glass and pressure is created by tightly closing the jar, the rubber adheres to the glass, sealing out air and bacteria.

Here’s how to fill the jars.

STERILIZE the JARS While the rhubarb cooks, run the jars through the dishwasher by themselves, no dirty dishes! Time it so the jars are hot-hot when the jelly and jam are also hot-hot.

FILL the JARS Spoon the hot fruit into the hot jars to within 1/8 inch of the top edge. A funnel helps but isn’t necessary. With a damp cloth, wipe the inside lip so no fruit remains.

SEAL the JARS Place a lid on each jar and tightly screw on a rim.

WAIT Within 2 – 3 hours, you’ll hear an unmistakable and satisfying ‘pop’ as each jar seals. To check, press the center of a lid with a finger. The jar is sealed if the lid won’t depress, it’s not if it’s got a dimple. If a jar doesn’t seal, don’t worry. Just refrigerate it and enjoy the contents within a couple of weeks.

THINK Now really, wasn’t that easy?! And aren’t you proud?!

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food writer Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences.

COOKING LESSON:
RHUBARB ROSEMARY JELLY

Pretty pink & rosemary pungent
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
Makes 3 or 4 half-pint jars
  • 1 pound fresh rhubarb, trimmed in half-inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 ounce unflavored gelatin (2 packets)

In a large kettle, bring the rhubarb, water, sugar, vinegar and rosemary to a boil. Let simmer for 15 – 30 minutes until rhubarb becomes soft and syrupy. With a wooden spoon, press the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, discarding the solids.

In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the ¼ cup water, stirring in if needed. Let soften a minute, then stir into rhubarb.

Fill jars following instructions at left.



RHUBARB GINGER JAM

Perfect for toast and muffins
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
Makes 3 or 4 half-pint jars
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 pound fresh rhubarb, trimmed in one-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped
  • Zest of a lemon

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until jam thickens, stirring often.

Fill jars following instructions at left.


More Rhubarb Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler Rhubarb Sorbet

from A Veggie Venture, my food blog
~ Practical Home Canning Tips ~

Do you have a favorite rhubarb treat that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me the recipe in a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com.
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Love that image of you two girls on the step!
 
LOL Seriously, this post had me grinding my teeth with the memory of eating raw rhubarb! How could us kids eat such a thing?! And we didn't even use sugar - just snapped it off and ate it (after carefully wiping it off on our pants of course). Ugh! So sour! The back of my throat is closing down just thinking about it. LOL
 
Silly me... It would never have occurred to me to make rhubarb jam! Yet I love rhubarb stew, rhubarb crisp, rhubarb pie, and yes even raw rhubarb dipped in sugar. Alas, I have no rhubarb plant in our small shady garden. I've tried growing it but it really does need sun.

I'm hoping that our next door neighbour will take pity on us again this year and give us some of her rhubarb....

Thank you for the jam making lesson. I've never had the courage to do any canning and have only ever made small quantities of jam that I refrigerate.

-Elizabeth
 
Alanna, I'm with the other folks who have feared the canning operation, but you make it sound so simple! I might have to give it a try. But what do you suggest for a girl with no dishwasher?
 
Just 1/2 cup sugar for 1 lb of rhubarb? Just checking. I'm going to try using Splenda, will let you know.
 
Pille ~ Thanks! To my taste, they're both magical combinations.

Christine ~ :-)

Sally ~ Ah yes, the 'dry sour' of rhubarb. Can't imagine it without sugar!

Elizabeth ~ Rhubarb stew, hmm, haven't tried that one. I'm imagining lamb, perhaps, perhaps with apples too? And yes, it does include sun, plus a sunny spot that's out of the way since it does get gangly after it's thinned out for the season. There are lots of husbands who hate the stuff, having nothing to do with pie and everything to do with yard work! And it really is a few simple steps, it just pays to get organized. I went a little wild, canning, the year my mother died. I've collected lots of my canning tips to help out a bit.

Genie ~ Hmm. Maybe a new apartment? :-) But no worries. These jars are small, you'll have a Dutch oven or some big pot that you can boil them in to sterilize. That's the traditional method, mine's the one that's out of the ordinary.

KK ~ Yes, that jam is tart, more like a marmalade, than a sweet-sweet jam. I'll love to hear how it goes with Splenda. And I know you love your rhubarb, so it'll be a fair test!
 
Rhubarb stew in our house is simply stewed rhubarb (rhubarb and sugar and possibly a little ginger and butter).

But what a good idea to make actual stew with meat!

I started to look through the canning tips and once again, found myself blanching. Do I have a big enough pot? How will I sterilize the jars? (Like Genie, I do not have a dish washer, nor are we ever likely to get one.)

But I really do want to join the canning club - ever since reading "Dandelion Wine" by Ray Bradbury and "Prodigal Summer" by Barbara Kingsolver. The idea of all those gem like jars of summer waiting to light up a cold dreary day in winter is so appealing!

-Elizabeth

P.S. Alas, unless we cut down trees (which will never happen unless they become diseased) in our small back garden, there is no place for rhubarb. What a tragedy. Rhubarb pie is my favourite kind of pie.
 
Elizabeth ~ Ah, yes, what I think of as 'sauce', yes, I LOVE this, all on its own and especially stirred into a little custard. Yum! As for canning, don't let yourself get overwhelmed, the "canning tips" are needed only when you get really into it, staying organized. I did the rhubarb jam/jelly column to show how really easy it is to make jam and jelly, yes, two kinds in the course of an hour. I get to Toronto on occasion to visit family there (oh if I'd only known to meet up with food bloggers my last visit, just two years ago) so if you've not tackled canning by then but still want to, we'll do it then. Deal?!
 
Those recipes are very interesting and original! I love rhubarb, but for some reason I never get to make a jam that suits my taste.
 
Good blog. I will be back for more.

-0-0-
 
You were the topic of conversation – again – amongst my foodie friends. JM was telling an amusing story about her Dad, who said he had to get home early from a family function to do some of Alanna’s rhubarb preserves – so it was all your fault!
 
Made a batch of the rhubarb ginger jam. I like it. It is tart(I mean like "pucker tart") but I like the fresh flavor. The crystallized ginger I used would qualify for antique status since I do believe I've had it (and moved it about)for close to 35 years! I feel that with fresh crystallized ginger I will like it even more. I'm also going to try the rosemary jelly. I love rosemary and the local grocery is getting me in some fresh rosemary next week as well as crystallized ginger. The good news is that he is "hooked" on your recipes which I share with him.
 
hi from england i made rhubarb and ginger jam but used preserved ginger in ginger wine, it is absolutely gorgeous but seriously thick!!!!! does any body know if it is ok to put it all back in pan add some water and re-boil to thin it down? otherwise i might have to get some new teeth in.
 
Hello England ~ Thanks for the day's chuckle! We sure can't be responsible for teeth going missing! I think you would be just fine recooking it. BTW I think your idea of preserved ginger is quite brilliant! Report back, okay? no lispth-ing. AK
 
Hi Alanna I took your advice about my rhubarb and ginger glue, Iadded 3/4 pint of water to roughly 6 lbs of jam re-boiled it and hey presto a lovely jam with the added bonus of an extra jar. By the way I didnt mean to be anonymous I must have pressed the wrong button.I am what they call a "silver surfer" here, but I am hopeless, it has taken me ages to find your site again so that I could thank you. Love to you all from Maureen. England.xxx.

7/14/2007
 
PS. I have lots of English Jam and Chutney recipes if anyone would like to try them? Maureen.x.

7/14/2007
 
Hi Maureen from England and a "silver surfer" (what a great title!) and don't worry, it's never a problem to comment 'anonymously'. I am so so glad the jam worked out so perfectly! I suppose it's possible that you have a different variety of rhubarb with more pectin? or maybe the first batch cooked a little long? or? or? It's hard to say. I suppose it's why cooking is as much art as science.

PS I'd love for you to share a couple of favorite recipes. If you're comfortable use the e-mail address (and then I can write back), otherwise leave them here. I'm especially looking for a pineapple chutney with hot peppers and mustard seed, a recipe I lost many years ago and haven't been able to re-create.

7/15/2007
 
Hi Alanna, Am I to understand by what you said on your site that you don't need to do a hot water bath to make the "Rubarb jelly and jams? Just use hot sterile jars,and lids, and the hot jelly or jam in, and set on the counter and it will seal in a couple hrs or so?
 
That's right, Kathy, no hot water bath is needed. It's because the rhubarb is so thoroughly cooked (and still hot when put into the sterile jars) plus sugar actually acts as a preservative. It's really truly that easy. Let me know how it goes!!
 
Alanna - such a great idea to use crystallised ginger in the jam! And I read from somewhere else, that rosemary pairs well with rhubarb, so I should really try this combination, too.

5/25/07
 
Made the jam last night and I love it! Though I only got 2 and 1/2 jars from the recipe. I was wondering if maybe my rhubarb was higher in water or something so reduced down more for the weight. Oh well, I'll just have to make another batch ;) Interestingly, my mum has always used the dishwasher 'sterilising' method too, and I started last year.

I didn't make the jelly, and I was wondering (given the rosemary) whether that is a savoury 'meat condiment' type jelly, or also a sweeter 'spread it on your toast' type jelly?
 
Hi Sarah ~

Yay! So glad the rhubarb jam worked out for you! When I make rhubarb jam and jelly, I'm nearly always using rhubarb just fresh from someone's garden (my own rhubarb patch is being slow to take off) and so is really fat and plump. That might, yes, make a difference.

As for the rosemary in the jelly, it is nice with meat (lamb, say or chicken) but I do love it right on muffins and toast. Rosemary and rhubarb are magical, you'll just have to try it!

Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know about the jelly!
 
The recipe sounded divine. I used fresh rhubarb with big fat stems and followed the recipe to a T. I barely got one cup of jam - not even worth sealing the jar for that LOL so I am sitting here eating a piece of Spelt/wholewheat/beet toast with rhubarb ginger jam still warm from the pot. YUMM!

Any idea why the yield was so small?

Will absolutely definitely make again!
 
I cannot wait to try this tomorrow! I am so glad I found your column and blog. I live in Berkeley, but we return home to St. Louis whenever we can, and we're always looking for great food places. I am bookmarking your site! We usually hit the Kirkwood farmers' market, but I've been meaning to take my children to Soulard forever. And the Tower Grove market sounds great! Thanks, Ann.
 
Oopsy ~ Oops. The only thing I can think of isn't much and may not make either one of us 'feel' better. The more I cook with vegetables, I realize how alive -- and varied -- they are, from one day to the next, from one time in the season to the next, from one variety to the next, from one growing location to the next. There's just something that's different. And because "mostly" our food comes from supermarkets and is grown as a "product", it often DOES taste/cook/react the same. But when we get stuff from the garden, the farmers market, a CSA, there's more variability and it's up to US to adjust, like slurping up jelly on a delicious-looking scone!

Mrs Lear ~ Very fun! I hear from 'ex pat' St. Louis readers quite often. Soulard is a real experience, be sure to stop at Gus' Pretzels while you're in the neighborhood!
 
i remember the same memory from the summer of when i was a kid the only difference is wepicked it and dipped the rhubarb right ib the sugar bowl
 
ejm - I'd try growing it anyway. We have a whole bunch of rhubarb plants that we found growing at the edge of our forest when we bought our house. It gets next to no sun (maybe a little filtered in the morning.) But they grow like crazy. If you can find a spot where it gets some filtered sun you might be just fine. (and depending on where you live, the leaves on your trees won't be fully open until late spring anyway- so you might get some sun in spring when it needs it most!)
 
i've just made 40 jars of plum jam, i find it easy to heat my jam jars in the oven. the jam is wonderful, rhubarb and ginger next week. jacqui. co durham.
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna