Vanilla-Rhubarb Jam

Rhubarb stalks

During the years I was in middle school, my family lived in a house just off Canyon Drive, in SW Portland. It was an isolating neighborhood, without sidewalks and with very few kids of similar age. One of the few things the house had going for it was the fact that it had an enormous yard (more than a quarter of an acre) that had been carefully tended during the sixties and seventies by a botanist.

Chopped rhubarb

The back yard was dotted with interesting trees (many of them fruit-bearing) and shrubs, featured a row multi-colored lilac trees (forever endearing me to those springtime flowers) and had a hidden rhubarb patch right up against the neighbor’s fence. Each spring, the refrigerator would fill up with vibrant, pink stalks, as my dad felt it was his duty to harvest all edible items from the yard. My mom would try to keep up with the bounty, but the sheer volume would overwhelm her and bags of the rhubarb would get passed out to neighbors and co-workers.

10~ cups chopped rhubarb

Now I mourn for all the rhubarb that we didn’t use and dream about a life that includes a prolific rhubarb patch, as it is one of my favorite spring treats. I love the fresh, apple-y scent it has when you cut into it, and I adore the electricity of its color. After a winter of dark greens and root vegetables, seeing that vivid pink on the cutting board feels like salvation.

Into the pot

Unfortunately, rhubarb doesn’t actually appear to be in season in the Philadelphia-area quite yet, so I broke down and made this jam with stalks from Washington State (I give my local produce store credit for having the origin so clearly marked). The first batch I made didn’t set particularly well after 24 hours, so I made another round, only to have that one become nearly solid (I used a full package of Sure-Jell powdered pectin that time and remembered why I don’t like it). I found that with refrigeration, the first batch finally firmed up a bit and achieved a really nice, if slightly loose texture. That’s the recipe I’ve included here. If you like your jam a bit firmer, use two packets of liquid pectin instead of one and skip the Sure-Jell.

Cooking rhubarb

And, of course, I’ll be giving away a half-pint of this jam to one lucky person. If you want a chance to be the winner, leave a comment (and if you feel so moved, share any rhubarb memories you might have). I’ll pick a winner on Friday, March 27th at 12 noon and post/Twitter the lucky individual sometime shortly after that. The recipe is after the jump.

Filling jars

Vanilla-Rhubarb Jam

Yield: Four Pints

Ingredients

  • 10 cups of chopped rhubarb (approximately 2 1/2 pounds of stalks)
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 1 cup brewed Earl Grey tea
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 packet liquid pectin (Ball brand is preferred)

Instructions

  1. Sterilize your jars in a large pot of boiling water. If you're making refrigerator jam (it will keep nicely unprocessed in the fridge for 2-3 months), skip this step.
  2. In a 5-quart, non-reactive pot, bring the rhubarb, sugar and tea to a boil.
  3. Add the vanilla bean, lemon and salt to the pot and let it bubble gently for about ten minutes (on my stove, this means I set it to medium-high).
  4. After ten minutes have elapsed, add the pectin, stir to combine and let cook for a few more minutes.
  5. At this point, dip a spoon in the jam and see how it coats the back of the spoon. If you get a nice, even sheet, the jam is done. You can also taste at this point, to see if you like the balance of flavors. Add a little more lemon juice if you feel it needs additional brightening.
  6. Pour into hot jars, wide mouth and rings to remove any spillage and apply lids/rings.
  7. Process in a hot water bath for ten minutes.
  8. Remove from water and let cool.
http://foodinjars.com/2009/03/vanilla-rhubarb-jam/

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89 Responses to Vanilla-Rhubarb Jam

  1. 51

    […] used Marisa McClellan’s recipe for Vanilla-Rhubarb Jam from her blog Food in Jars and also spent plenty of time thumbing through Liana Krissoff’s […]

  2. 52
    Dartanya says:

    YUM!!! I just found your site and wow – this is perfect for me as a small backyard perserver!! I live in a regular subdivision, but we’ve converted our backyard into a sustainable garden full of fruits and vegetables – but only enough at any one time to make small batches. Thanks for the great inspiration and keep those recipes coming!!

  3. 53
    Barbara says:

    I live in Kodiak Alaska where we have a lot of rhubarb. I am always looking for a new recipe for this plant and yours seems easy and fun. I love the idea of using Earl Grey Tea which is one of my favorites.

  4. 54
    Kristine says:

    Thanks for the inspired combination of flavors. I just busted out a batch and can’t wait to try it.

  5. 55
    Cindy Siemens says:

    Just came across your recipe and love the idea of Earl Grey Tea – it’s my favorite! :=) I was just wondering if I could us frozen rhubarb? I have lots in my freezer but it’s fall so no fresh stalks.

  6. 56

    […] cup early grey tea (you can thank Food in Jars for this genius […]

  7. 57

    […] Marisa McClellan, author of the brilliant Food in Jars blog and local Philadelphia culinary luminary, puts it very well, I think, when she writes: […]

  8. 58

    […] the first batch I decided on a vanilla rhubarb jam. I had some vanilla beans and a little time on Google proved it’s a good […]

  9. 59

    […] we set to work slicing, dicing, rolling, and stewing. We made strawberry rhubarb hand pies and an Earl Grey vanilla bean rhubarb jam. The heavy rainclouds of the morning cleared and we feasted on our rhubarb treats under the […]

  10. 60
    Jeanne Barton says:

    I am curious. As rhubarb is tart, and most jam recipes usually has the sugar equal to the fruit, wouldn’t this be a bit puckery to eat? I love the idea of adding vanilla to it, but perhaps a bit more sugar is required? Or maybe this mellows as it cooks down.

  11. 61
    Sandra says:

    Hi there,
    Here in NZ spring has only just started and my rhubarb is looking appealing already, just a bit longer to get some more volume. YUM.
    I’m sort of a newbee to jam/marmalade making but enjoying it, specially ’cause I can create flavors that are interesting and not in stores by far. What I’m wondering is, why this recipe calls for pectine to be added whereas your rhubarb&rosemary one (LOVE rosemary, never thought of using like this. Can’t wait!) does not and apparently will still set anyway?

    Looking forward to your reply and thanks for all the nice ideas here. Cheers

    • 61.1
      Marisa says:

      It’s because of the difference in batch size. Larger batches often need pectin, whereas smaller batches are able to evaporate out their moisture levels more efficiently and so set up better without additional pectin. Additionally, I wrote those recipes in different points in my canning career and things evolve.

  12. 62

    […] first ever rhubarb preserve is still one of my favorites. It’s just rhubarb, vanilla and a little bit of earl grey tea for extra […]

  13. 63
    Diana Kinder says:

    So pretty . . strawberry rhubarb is good too!

  14. 64

    […] Vanilla-Rhubarb Butter with tea  adapted from Marisa McClellan […]

  15. 65
    Jennifer says:

    Just made this last night, first time canning/preserving! I’m a huge rhubarb fan and this turned out lovely. Really nice blend of flavors. Pretty proud of myself right now, I used a mix of weck and ball jars, all but one jar sealed!

  16. 66

    […] Recipe Adapted from Food in Jars […]

  17. 67
    Amy says:

    Do you think it would work using pure vanilla extract instead of the bean?

    • 67.1
      Marisa says:

      You don’t get nearly the same depth of flavor from vanilla extract. Because it is alcohol based, most the flavor will just burn right off.

  18. 68

    […] on her Quick Indonesian pickles).  Another great resource is the blog Food in Jars.  Today I made Vanilla Rhubarb Jam from the Food in Jars blog.  The recipe called for Earl Grey tea, but I substituted Rishi Vanilla […]

  19. 69

    […] performance of Certo pectin, and recommended the Ball brand pectin instead. For my next batch, a vanilla-rhubarb jam with Earl Grey tea, I tried the Ball pectin instead, and sure enough it set up perfectly! So, I […]

  20. 70
    Deepa says:

    I love your website! New to canning and I’ve used three of your recipes this year with success. This may be a silly question, but do you add earl grey tea leaves, or 1 cup of prepared earl grey tea (like the drink). Thanks!

  21. 71
    Christine says:

    I tried this last night! … … I will try it again in a few weeks.

    In my defense, a lot of recipes start with just fruit and sugar.

    So when the first step in the recipe for vanilla-rhubarb jam was, “Bring rhubarb, sugar, and 1 cup of earl grey tea to a boil,” it made total sense in my head.

    So I cut up the rhubarb – measured the sugar – cut open a bunch of teabags, since I didn’t have loose Earl Grey, and measured out one cup. I wondered how the tea would dissolve and not stay kind of … ground-y … once the jam was cooked, but I trust Marisa’s recipes. Marissa is the bomb! (You see where this is going, right? I *did not* see where this was going.)

    I mixed everything up in the pot and stood there frowning at the mixture, then went back and checked the recipe twice, trying to figure out if I’d missed an instruction to add some sort of liquid. Fruit and sugar cooks down into liquid really fast, but rhubarb is not a fruit. It doesn’t hold as much water and it’s not going to break down fast enough. I mean — come on. I’m not dumb. In what universe am I not about to carbonize dry sugar on the bottom of the pan? Where is the liquid in this recipe, Marisa? I trust you but something is wrong. WHERE IS THE LIQU–

    Oh.

    One cup of Earl Grey tea.

    Not tea leaves.

    Tea.

    I didn’t have the energy to rinse the sugar and tea out of the rhubarb and salvage it. Once I stopped flailing and laughing, I dumped the entire mess and decided this was a pretty good indication that I was done canning for the week.

    My kitchen smells, overwhelmingly, of bergamot.

    • 71.1
      Marisa says:

      Oh god, Christine! So funny! And I’m so sorry for the wasted ingredients. I’m going to go add the word “brewed” to that recipe, so that no one else has to take this particular journey.

  22. 72
    Rose says:

    I made this using a pouch of Ball pectin, and it was SUPER runny. I had to label the jars “Vanilla Bean Rhubarb COMPOTE” because it really wouldn’t pass as jam. Any idea why? I used a madagascar vanilla red rooibos tea instead of earl gray (keeping things decaf), but followed all the quantities and cooking times exactly! Not sure why it didn’t set up properly.

    • 72.1
      Marisa says:

      The issue is that cooking times are just suggestions. Your rhubarb may have contained more water than mine did and so could have needed a minute or two longer on the stove. That’s why I suggested that you use look at how the jam is sheeting to ensure that it’s ready to set up before you pull it off the stove.

  23. 73

    […] finally, I’ve been reading lots and lots of canning recipes. Summer is here! Time to fire up the stove and make jam! (I added strawberries and used apple juice in place of the tea. I’m a chronic […]

  24. 74

    […] And for a rhubarb plant that became my first really successful batch(es) of jam. […]

  25. 75
    Alison says:

    Tried this recipe last year and followed it exactly. The flavor was wonderful, but it did it not set. It comes out extremely runny, which made a fantastic topping for ice cream and a mix-in for plain yogurt. I am going to try it again today now that I have a candy thermometer and see if I can get it to the gelling point to see if it makes a difference.

  26. 76
    Ferne says:

    I used oranges rind and juice from 1 orange instead of lemon juice, vanilla instead of vanilla bean and organic blueberry jam tea instead of earl grey. Didn’t quite use as much sugar as I don’t like mine quite as sweet. Was very tasty!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] and canning delicious, seasonal fare.  I opted to turn my bunch of rhubarb stalks into the Vanilla-Rhubarb Jam listed on her blog.  The jam turned out well – a beautiful combination of fragrant vanilla […]

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