How to Make Rhubarb Jam & Rhubarb Jelly

How to Make Rhubarb Jam & Jelly In Just One Hour!

It sounds impossible, right, putting up a few jars of both rhubarb jam and jelly in an hour? I'm here to attest, it's not only possible, just grab a couple of pounds of spring's best rhubarb and you'll prove it for yourself. Each recipe produces a "small batch" of 1-1/2 to 2 cups of jam or jelly. You can do this!

How to Make Rhubarb Jam & Jelly In One Hour for canning, fridge or freezer ♥

Fresh & Seasonal, an Early Summer Classic. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Flexible for Canning, Fridge or Freezer.

Life on the Back Step

On My Mind ♥, remembering rhubarb dipped in sugar on the back step

On hot June days when my sister and I were girls, 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 sugar 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 Easy! It Really Is! Here's What You'll Need

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

And it's so nice to be able to press a jar into a friend's hands or to wrap up a jar along with a loaf of fresh bread to deliver to a neighbor.

Here's what you'll need: not much!

  • Canning Jars Each recipe yields 3-4 cups so for both, you'll need jars large enough to hold 6-8 cups.
  • I like to use small half-pint canning jars that each hold one cup. Somehow more jars = more happiness!
  • But larger jars will work fine too.
  • Look for brand-new canning jars in grocery stores (usually in the baking aisle) and in places like Walmart (in the housewares section). They usually come in a cases of six or twelve and can be used again and again for jam and jelly, sure, but also for storing other food items.

  • Canning Lids If you buy new jars, they come with special lids and special rings.
  • If you inspect the underside of a lid, you’ll see a narrow band of rubber along the outer edge. It's this band of rubber which is specially designed (along with the rings) to seal the contents of the jar, protecting the food from air and bacteria.
  • To seal properly for actual canning, the lids are one-time use only. Used lids can be re-purposed just to close up a jar for leftovers, pantry storage, etc., just not for safe canning.
  • If you already have the jars, the lids can be purchased separately in small boxes.
  • They come in two sizes, "regular mouth" and "wide mouth". The lids keep so I tend to keep a few boxes, that way, if a canning opportunity hits, no need for a special trip to the store.
  • Over the years, I've come to prefer the wide-mouth jars and so only buy jars with that width. That means that the same lids fit all the various jar sizes (half-pint, pint and quart) so long as they're wide-mouth. The same thing applies to regular-mouth jars so if you happen to have a bunch of regular-width jars, maybe you fix on that width rather than wide-mouth.

  • Canning Rings If you buy new jars, they come with special rings.
  • The rings can be re-used so long as they're in good shape, no nicks or rusty spots. I collect rings in a box in the basement, one for wide mouth and one for small mouth. (Ha! It sounds like we're talking about fish!)
  • Like lids, rings may be purchased separately.

  • No Other Canning Equipment These recipes use hot jars and hot liquid to seal the jars.
  • IMPORTANT While this hot jar-hot liquid technique has been used for years and years, it does not meet current safe-canning standards that allow home-canned foods to be stored without refrigeration.
  • To adhere to current standards, both recipes here should be considered "refrigerator jams" that should be kept in the refrigerator and used up within 7-10 days.
  • Both the jam and jelly can also be frozen, then thawed for use within 7-10 days after thawing.

What's the Difference Between Jam & Jelly?

  • Jam is thick and fruity with lots of texture. To make jelly, we cook the fruit with sugar until it gets so soft, it is easily spreadable.
  • Jelly is clear and smooth, like the grape jelly of our childhood peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. To make jelly, we cook the fruit with sugar, then press the fruit to express all the delicious juices, then thicken just the juices.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

May You Use Any Ol' Glass Jars? Yes ... But.

Let's say you don't have and don't want to buy new canning jars. Or maybe your mom (like mine!) collected odd-size jars with pretty shapes you'd really like to put to good use.

No problem ... but with one huge caveat. Re-purposed glass jars must be stored in the refrigerator and the jam or jelly eaten within a week or so. The jams may also be frozen, even in glass jars, just be sure to leave room for contents to expand when frozen.

Where's the Pectin? These recipes do not call for pectin.

Many jam and jelly recipes call for a starch called "pectin" for thickening. Pectin occurs naturally in some fruits (apples, citrus, say) but not in rhubarb. In my recipes, the jelly is thickened with unflavored gelatin (you'll find it near the boxes of jello or near the canning jars) and the jam is thickened by cooking down the fruit itself. So ... no pectin required!

Why Do Recipes So Often Specify Using a Saucepan or Skillet with a Heavy Bottom? Such a good question!

A heavy-bottomed pan protects what you're cooking from the heat source, the electric element in an electric store or the flame on a gas stove. If the heat is a little high, the heavy bottom will protect the contents from burning – trust me, even with a heavy-bottomed pan, it's still possible to burn foods but you've got a little extra time to adjust the heat.

In contrast, a thin-bottomed saucepan or skillet will conduct heat so fast, the contents will start to scorch and stick so so fast.

To Learn More About Canning Our Own Food in Jars

The summer we lost my mom was really tough. I'd spent the prior year and a half taking care of her and my dad. Dad and I even did hospice for Mom in my home. When it was all over, I was so lost.

I threw myself into canning that year, the jars just kept adding up. And I learned a lot ...

Much of what I learned is detailed here in Practical Home Canning Tips. It doesn't deal so much with the canning process itself but the practical things to do beforehand and afterward, practical, down-to-earth stuff.

I review it myself, before beginning a new canning project!

Practical Home Canning Tips for both new and experienced home canners ♥, the practical stuff, what to do before (and after) you start canning.

  • "I like it. It is pucker tart but I like the fresh flavor." ~ Anonymous
  • "It is absolutely gorgeous ..." ~ Anonymous
  • "I love the jam!" ~ Anonymous
  • "YUMM." ~ oopsydaisy
  • What're you waiting for?!


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
Makes 3-4 cups jelly filling 3-4 half-pint jars
  • 1 pound (454g) fresh rhubarb, trimmed in half-inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups (400g) 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 saucepan with a heavy bottom, bring the rhubarb, water, sugar, vinegar and rosemary to a boil. Let simmer on low heat for 15 – 30 minutes until the rhubarb becomes soft and syrupy, stir it every so often to make sure the fruit isn't sticking to the bottom of the pan, if it is, reduce the temperature, you don't want the fruit to burn! 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 to thicken.

While the juices are still hot, fill the jars, here's here's how.

Store the jars in the refrigerator for a 7-10 days, otherwise freeze until ready to use.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Tablespoon (assumes yield of 3.5 cups): 30 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 1mg Sodium; 8g Carb; 0g Fiber; 7g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 1 & PointsPlus 1 & SmartPoints 2 & Freestyle 2 & myWW green 2 & blue 2 & purple 2


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
Makes 3-4 cups jelly filling 3-4 half-pint jars
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 pound (454g) fresh rhubarb, trimmed in one-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped
  • Zest of a lemon

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

While the juices are still hot, fill the jars, here's here's how.

Store the jars in the refrigerator for a 7-10 days, otherwise freeze until ready to use.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Tablespoon (assumes yield of 3-1/2 cups): 10 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 0mg Sodium; 3g Carb; 0g Fiber; 2g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 0 & PointsPlus 0 & SmartPoints 1 & Freestyle 1 & myWW green 1 & blue 1 & purple 1 (for myWW, 2 tablespoons also = 1 point)


The trick is to fill sterilized very hot jars with very hot liquid, then let the jar and lid technology go to work. 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.

IMPORTANT NOTE This hot-jar plus hot-liquid method for sealing jars has been used for many years but does not meet current safe-canning standards.

Three options. (1) You may use a "hot water bath" to process the jars for 5 minutes, then the jars may be safely stored without refrigeration. (My recipe for Blueberry Jam with Cinnamon includes instructions for a hot water bath.) (2) Or you may skip the hot water bath, seal the jars as below, then refrigerate the jars and use the contents in 7-10 days. (3) Or just decide from the get-go that you'll treat the jam and jelly as "refrigerator" jam and jelly. You can store them in any ol' clean jar or container and skip the hot-jar plus hot-liquid sealing process with canning jars. Obviously, the contents should be refrigerated and eaten within 7-10 days.

Here’s how to fill the jars.

STERILIZE the JARS While the rhubarb cooks, run the jars through the dishwasher by themselves, not with dirty dishes! Time it so the jars are hot-hot-hot when the jelly and jam are also hot-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 clean 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 FOR THE POP! Within 2 – 3 hours, you’ll hear an unmistakable and satisfying "pop" as each jar seals. Count! If you have four jars, you should hear four pops!

To check, press the center of a lid with a finger.

The jar is sealed if the lid won’t depress. It’s not safely sealed if the lid has a dimple and can be depressed. If a jar doesn’t seal, don’t worry, the contents are still safe to eat, the jars just need to be refrigerated. Enjoy the contents within a couple of weeks.

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

Jams, Pickles & Preserves, a recipe collection ♥ Sweet to Savory. Canning and No Canning Required.

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. sti If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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2007, 2008 & 2020

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Anonymous7/10/2007

    Love that image of you two girls on the step!

  2. Anonymous7/10/2007

    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

  3. Anonymous7/10/2007

    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.


  4. Anonymous7/10/2007

    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?

  5. Anonymous7/10/2007

    Just 1/2 cup sugar for 1 lb of rhubarb? Just checking. I'm going to try using Splenda, will let you know.

  6. 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!

  7. Anonymous7/10/2007

    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!


    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.

  8. 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?!

  9. Anonymous7/10/2007

    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.

  10. Anonymous7/10/2007

    Good blog. I will be back for more.


  11. Anonymous7/10/2007

    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!

  12. Anonymous7/10/2007

    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.

  13. Anonymous7/10/2007

    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.

  14. 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

  15. Anonymous7/24/2007

    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.


  16. Anonymous7/24/2007

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


  17. 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.


  18. Anonymous8/03/2007

    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?

  19. 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!!

  20. Anonymous4/03/2008

    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.


  21. Anonymous6/11/2008

    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?

  22. 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!

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

  25. Anonymous7/18/2008

    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

  26. Anonymous8/14/2008

    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!)

  27. jacqui9/05/2010

    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