Rhubarb is one of the few plants that reliably turns up a bumper crop in our garden every year. It grows so well in its spot next to the compost bin that we always have way more than we know what do with, even more so since my dad split it into 4 plants a couple of years ago. Preserving it in a jam is a great way of keeping some for later in the year (although I must admit to starting eating this straight away). Although best made with early rhubarb you can also use larger stalks just fine. Our rhubarb plant has been passed down through the generations so I have no idea what variety it is – it originally came from a plant in my great grandfather’s garden and as a child it came with us when we moved house. When I first got my own place we split the plant so I could plant my own and it has since moved again with me, and a plant has been returned to dad for his allotment.
The apples and the lemon rind and juice in this recipe help it to set – if you were to leave them both out you may need to use jam sugar, which contains added pectin. If you are organised enough to have planned ahead I am sure you could use frozen diced apples which would allow you to use foraged crab apples or homegrown if you are lucky enough to have an apple tree.
Rhubarb and Apple Jam:
- 1kg rhubarb stalks, washed and trimmed, then sliced into approx 1cm chunks
- 3 eating apples or a large cooking apple, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
- 1kg preserving sugar ( or jam sugar for added pectin)
- 1 lemon
- 1tsp ground ginger (optional)
- 25g unsalted butter
- Large bowl
- Either a preserving pan or a heavy based large saucepan
- Wooden spoon
- Grater or lemon zester
- Sterilised jars – you can reuse old jam jars. This recipe will probably make about 4-6 jars depending on the size but have a couple more ready just in case.
- Jam or sugar thermometer (optional) or put several saucers in the fridge or freezer (to use later to test the jam setting point).
How to sterilise the jars:
Wash your jars thoroughly in soapy water or a dishwasher and dry in an oven at 140 degrees C for at least 10 mins – then keep them warm until ready to use. Scald the clean lids in boiling water. You can alternatively use a sterilising solution according to the pack instructions and warm the jars after rinsing thoroughly.
- Place the sliced rhubarb into a large bowl with the sugar.
- Use the lemon zester or grater to grate the lemon rind into the bowl. Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze in the juice.
- Give it all a stir. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth such as a tea towel and leave for a few hours, stirring occasionally. You should see some juices start to come out of the rhubarb (if not you can leave it longer – some recipes say to leave overnight but I find a few hours works fine).
- Meanwhile wash and sterilise your jars as above.
- Empty your bowl of rhubarb and sugar with all the juices into your pan. Add the chopped apple and ginger (if using).
- Bring the mixture to a boil slowly so that the rhubarb and apple have time to soften.
- Then bring the mix to a rolling boil and boil until it reaches setting point ( see below), stirring frequently to prevent sticking (and because personally I prefer the rhubarb broken up rather than in big chunks in the final jam). I found this took about 25 mins but this may vary.
- Once your jam has reached setting point remove from the heat, stir in the butter and leave to cool down a little. You may find it has formed a skin on cooling in which case give it a quick stir before spooning carefully into your warmed jars. Place the lids on while still warm.
How to test for setting point:
Using a jam thermometer – setting point should be achieved at around 104 -105 degrees C. However you may find it difficult to test accurately if you are making a relatively small amount of jam in a large pan – I have never managed it and prefer the saucer method. When you think the jam is approaching setting point (it will start to thicken a little), get a cold saucer from your fridge/freezer and carefully drop a little of the jam onto it. Give it a moment to cool and then press with your finger – if ready it should wrinkle a little. If not cook for another few minutes and test again.