13 August 2012

Rhubarb & Ginger Jam - well it was about time!

Long overdue, I'd say!

Having occurred to me that I had yet to blog anything Rhubarb & Ginger flavoured - if ever there was a missed opportunity, it's that one - I resolved to do something about that.

Now Ruby is, as ever, on a mission to take over our little garden - so I had no shortage of rhubarb.  In fact, we've had to crop her once and there was so much of it we gave rhubarb to all the neighbours whether they wanted it or not.

Sugary rhubarby promise of jam
Ruby 2 has yet to be cropped, but she's now in "young adult" stage and I can see that we're going to have to take a crop from her very soon - if we want to be able to see down the garden, that is.

I had taken the pinkest and prettiest stems from the crop to make jam with.  It's worth being colour-ist in this way if you're going to be making jam, because it's so much nicer to have a pretty pink jam, than a slightly muddy greenish jam.  Save the greenish stems for a nice pie, or maybe a crumble.

It had been a while since I'd made any Small Batch Jam and I'd completely forgotten the details as to how, but the trusty blog came to the rescue and here I give details on what to do.

Hotter than Eva Longoria modelling lingerie
I set to and washed the rhubarb, then cut it into jam-sized pieces.  I knew that I wanted the jam to retain some of the tartness of the rhubarb, plus I wanted to use some of the stem ginger syrup from the jar, so reduced the amount of sugar by around a quarter.  It always seems to me to be such a waste to throw away that beautiful gingery syrup that stem ginger comes with - and including it in jam is a perfect way of using it.

I was also aware of the fact that I didn't want the heat of the jam's cooking process to affect the flavour of the ginger pieces.  They would be cut so small, I felt it would be easy for them to become overcooked in the process if I added them from the beginning.  I'm not sure if ginger's flavour does change if it is overcooked, but imagine it would do.  Most things taste different if overcooked!  So, although I added the syrup at the beginning, I opted not to add the ginger pieces until the very end.  It was a bit of a gamble, I will admit - but one which happily paid off as the ginger flavour was pronounced but not overpowering to the rhubarb.  Gorgeous!

I've just passed some of this jam on to my Mum & Dad (as ever, I made too much!) and are waiting to hear how they like it.  I'm hoping they'll enjoy it, as we like it a lot.  I have to admit that we've even used it like a compote and added a couple of teaspoonfuls to a bowl of vanilla ice cream.  Now that really was delicious.

As ever with small batch jam, you can't keep it out of the fridge as the pots aren't sterilised.  However, if you want to sterilise your pots, you would be able to keep it sealed for as long as any jam can be kept.

It's undoubtedly the season for jam, plus scones - and maybe hot buttered toast and jam with a cup of steaming tea on those rainy days.  Personally, I think the satisfaction of knowing that I made the jam is very definitely worth every second of the short time it takes to make.


Ingredients :

sticks of the pinkest rhubarb you can find - I used 8 or 9 large sticks
granulated sugar
stem ginger pieces - I used 5 walnut sized pieces (from a jar, not fresh)
3-4 tbsp ginger syrup from the jar.

Method :

1.  Wash and slice your rhubarb into smallish chunks.

2.  Weigh the rhubarb and take note of its weight.

3.  Place the rhubarb into a suitably sized non-reactive saucepan add 1tbsp of water and begin to heat on a high heat.

4.  Weigh out slightly less than the weight of the rhubarb, in sugar.  For instance, if you have 400g of rhubarb, I'd use around 310g of sugar.

5.  Once the rhubarb has begun to sizzle, is looking juicy and like it is beginning to soften, add the sugar and the ginger syrup.  It is worthwhile not adding the sugar until the fruit has begun to soften, as if there is a lack of liquid in the saucepan you can wind up with caramel beginning to happen, which can taint the flavour of the jam.  If your rhubarb appears dry, simply add a little more water.

6.  As the rhubarb cooks and the sugar dissolves, stir regularly to prevent it catching on the bottom of the pan.  Burnt rhubarb isn't very nice.

7.  Quickly chop the stem ginger pieces into a mixture of sizes - the largest of which should be no bigger than a quarter of a teaspoon.

8.  The jam will boil, at which point you need to take care not to connect with it as it is hotter than the surface of the sun (or seems like it) at this moment.  A long handled wooden spoon is to be recommended, for stirring with.

9.  Allow the jam to boil, as you need to cook off the majority of the water from the fruit.  How long this process takes depends entirely upon how much jam you're making.  For the ingredients I used, above, it took around 15-20 minutes.  You'll know when you are getting close to "jam", as the feel of the stirring will change.  Each pass of the spoon will become easier as the mixture changes from slightly granular to smooth glossiness.

10.  At this stage, get ready a metal spoon and a saucer of cold water.

11.  Once the jam has reached your preferred thickness - and is feeling glossy - drip a little into the metal spoon and see how easily it runs.  If you're doubtful still, drip a little into the water on the saucer.  Does it set quickly?  Can you run a finger through it without it dispersing into the water?

12.  Once the jam is demonstrating that it is setting well, remove from the heat and stir in the ginger pieces.  Set aside and allow to cool.

13.  Once at a safer temperature, decant into your pot of choice and put some bread into the toaster.  Well, you have to taste test your recipe, don't you?

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  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I am going to try this. As you know I did a rhubarb and banana jam - which was fine but the flavour was too out there for my better half!

    Have a great week!

    1. Thanks, Carole! :) You can always moderate the amount of ginger you use if he's a bit on the sensitive side! lol

  3. I love rhubarb but have not attempted jam yet. I have memories of spitting sugar and waiting forever for the magical setting point. I shall check out your guide to see how to do small batches. Your jam is a wonderful colour.

    1. That is why I love the small batch method so much. There is no "waiting forever", as it's such a small amount that it doesn't take very long at all for the water to cook off. As for the spitting sugar, well yes that does happen a little - but I recommend a deep saucepan and a long handled wooden spoon, plus regular stirring. It's when you stop stirring that it starts to spit, you see.

      It is a lovely colour, thanks. :) It's worthwhile sourcing the pinkest stems, just to achieve that colour.


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