I got into jam making a few years ago, and even though I don’t eat much jam myself I love making it. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than turning produce grown in our garden in to lovely jam. We have rhubarb in abundance this year, so I am experimenting with different rhubarb jam recipes, and this is the first of them.
Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam
There is a bit of a knack to jam making, but once you’ve done it a few times it can be really rewarding, especially if you are using things that you have grown in your own garden.
We have a ton of rhubarb this year so I will be turning a lot into jam, as well as this recipe I will also be making some rhubarb and ginger jam and rhubarb and raspberry which is a personal favourite of mine. Most of my jam ends up being given to friends and family as gifts, but this year I may try selling some at our our new ‘at the garden gate’ stall.
I made a large batch, but you could obviously scale down the ingredients depending on how much rhubarb you have. This quantity made about 4 1/2 lb of jam.
- 3lb rhubarb- washed and trimmed and cut into chunks
- 3lb granulated sugar
- Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
- 2 vanilla pods
You need to start preparing this jam about 24 hours before you actually want to make it.
- Place the rhubarb chunks in a large bowl.
- Add the sugar and lemon juice. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and place in the fridge for ideally 24 hours.
- Before starting to cook your jam, place a small saucer in the freezer. This is to test the jam later to see if you have reached the setting point.
- Place the rhubarb and sugar mixture into a large saucepan.
- Cut the vanilla pods length-way and add to the saucepan.
- Start on a medium heat, and heat gently, stirring all the time until all the sugar has dissolved and the liquid isn’t grainy. (A simple taste test required, but care it is hot!)
- Once all the sugar has dissolved, increase the temperature and get it to a rapid boil. This is the part where you need to keep stirring all the time to stop the bottom burning.
- Boil until reaching the setting point. Professional jam makers use a thermometer, I do it by eye. When the mixture starts sticking to the side of the pan and is thick enough to slow drip form the spoon I test it (not technical I know but it works for me).
- Testing involves popping a little blob onto the cold plate in the freezer, let it cool ( I stick mine in the fridge- not sure if this is the correct method though), and when cool to touch it should wrinkle when you touch the surface, and if you run your finger through the centre of the jam it should stay there and not merged back to a blob (does that make sense?). If it’s not done return the jam to the heat and re test in 3 minutes until you get to the setting point.
- When done transfer to sterilised jam jars (see tips later), use a clean cloth to wipe the rim and apply wax discs.
- When cooled, add cellophane lids, sprinkle water on top to add to shrinkage and apply elastic band. They are now ready for labelling, and you can add a fabric top if you wish.
This jam is very rhubarby and sweet, perfect for Summer and enjoying on toast, crumpets or with cream teas!
My Jam Making Tips:
As I have said before I am no professional jam maker, and do it purely as a hobby. However, in making jams i have learn’t a few tricks to make the process a bit easier so here are my tips.
- Sterilising jars- I tend to wash mine in the dishwasher at high temperature, and then I use my old bottle steriliser from when the kids were babies to sterilise my jam jars. Alternatively you can wash them and heat them in the oven (although I have no experience of this)
- You can fill jars the hard way with a spoon but it is is messy. A jam funnel makes the process a lot easier, and is a fairly cheap investment if you are going to make more than one batch of jam in your lifetime.
- You can buy wax discs and cellophane covers from many outlets now including the larger supermarkets. I usually head to Amazon as I buy in bulk, but I recently found a pretty fabric lid set which including labels and everything you need (bar the jars) from Hobbycraft.
- When the jam is boiling it tends to spit and molten sugar is hot! I wear a single over glove on my stirring hand which makes the process more comfortable. It’s also important to keep the kids well away when doing this part.
- Once you’ve got the hang of jam making, the world is your oyster! Same quantity of fruit to sugar and there you have it. Some fruit low in pectin needs pectin added (I have no experience of adding pectin), or you can use jam sugar which has pectin in, or add lemon juice.
- Last tip. Clean any splashes from your stove whilst still warm. Set jam on hobs is not easy to get off!!
NB. I am a home cook, and have had no formal training in preparing food. So these are just recipes that I use at home for the family. Whilst I have taken time to try and be as accurate as possible, some of the quantities are approximate. I am always keen to learn, so if you think the recipe can be improved upon please take the time to comment below. I also love seeing your versions.