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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  • Check the recipe index for more tasty preserves!

104 Responses to Vanilla-Rhubarb Jam

  1. 1
    Jess says:

    Oh this looks amazing. I want to be the winner!

  2. 2

    I have to admit that I wouldn’t have thought to combine rhubarb with vanilla; intriguing! (And yay for adding Earl Grey; it’s my favorite tea!)

  3. 3
    maggie (p&c) says:

    Yum!!!! So lucky to have grown up with a rhubarb patch—I’ve never actually seen it growing!

  4. 4

    It’s going to be a good 4 weeks before I see rhubarb. Its taste and brightness can indeed waken up the taste buds! I have not had that much success growing it, but I know I am not giving it the moist rich soil it needs (with afternoon shade in my area). Guess I’ll have to buy again this year.

    Just found your blog, and I am very curious about all that you’ll come up with. I do a lot of food preserving myself (some in jars, some not), and I am always looking for new ideas and the experience of others.

    Thank you

  5. 5
    Samantha says:

    I adore rhubarb. My friend Susann and I always call each other when we buy our first rhubarb of the season. I love that distinctive rhubarb smell too. Mmmm.

  6. 6
    andipantz says:

    sounds delish! your website is rockin, lady!

  7. 7
    sharon says:

    Can’t wait for rhubarb season here in NY! Some people eat it raw, I think with salt?–I want to try it that way this year, assuming it ever warms up here

  8. 8
    Livia says:

    I have a friend who ended up poisoned by oxalic acid from a rhubarb leaf that ended up in a pie. That said, I’d love some jam. It sounds delicious and complex.

  9. 9
    bethh says:

    oooh that looks amazing. I’ve never canned/jarred/jelled before but that recipe is tempting! My favorite pie ever is strawberry-rhubarb. My mom often made it around my birthday – late August in Rhode Island. The ingredients weren’t really in season, so she’d freeze them when they were fresh in order to make me my favorite pie!

  10. 10
    AmyH says:

    I planted some rhubarb seeds a few years ago. It is starting to come up, and this year will be our first harvest! I got tired of begging rhubarb from my neighbor. 🙂

  11. 11
    Tim M says:

    I never liked rhubarb much, but this sounds delicious!

  12. 12
    craige says:

    Earl Grey is the best! Very inspired of you.

  13. 13
    yoko says:

    After years of seeing strawberry rhubarb pie at local diners, I tried my hand at making one a few years ago. I fell in love with its tartness. I need to snatch some rhubarb from Sue’s soon, too.

  14. 14
    Jessica says:

    The first time my bf took me to meet his parents his mom sent me home with a gigantic bad of rhubarb. I froze it and used it throughout the year. Nothing makes a cold winter day brighten up like some rhubarb. It’s like springtime in your mouth.

  15. 15
    Aaron says:

    Growing up on a farm in Kansas we always had rhubarb, but my parents hated it. My dad would mow it over whenever it would pop up. Now that I am an adult, I love rhubarb. I am definitely going to have to try this.

  16. 16
    e says:

    I feel like this might be a better accompaniment to the blue cheese than the orange marmalade, what do you think?

    Hmm, that is an interesting thought. I’ll have to give it a try! -Marisa

  17. 17
    albert says:

    me me me! oh i can’t wait until rhubarb is available locally

  18. 18
    Melissa says:

    Love rhubarb, rarely see it! Would love to try this jam, sounds scrumptious!

  19. 19
    elliott says:

    my parents grew rhubarb and i love me some rhubarb pie…I’ll have to try this one

  20. 20
    Lisa says:

    New to the blog, and heavens I love rhubarb. It’s so pretty…I can’t wait to get some local fresh and make this myself.

  21. 21
    Mo Mack says:

    Marisa, aren’t you the savvy marketeer!?! A contest with a wonderful, intriguing, delectable prize one could win just by leaving a comment. One would have to be a fool not to participate. And so clever a way to build traffic. Your parents must be very proud of you.

    Thanks, Dad! -Marisa

  22. 22

    […] at our friends house — it was from a homemade gift they had received from Marisa McClellan of Food In Jars. I left the island determined to look up her recipe, harvest the patch of rhubarb in my own front […]

  23. 23
    Ether says:

    Is your rhubarb measurement correct there? You say 1 cups (2 1/2 lbs appx), so I am curious.

    • 23.1
      Marisa says:

      Oh by, thanks for point that out. It’s most definitely a typo, the recipe calls for 10 cups of chopped rhubarb, not 1 cup. I’ve updated the post to read accurately. My apologies!

  24. 24

    I finally made some rhubarb jam but made mine without pectin and with honey instead of sugar. since I didn’t have a vanilla bean handy I just stirred in a good glug of vanilla and it was lovely. I’ve also decided that cardamom and cloves are the ideal spices for rhubarb.

    my only complaint: I used some rhubarb from the farmer’s market that was more green than pink and my color is far from sunset. it’s more swamp. disappointing but I have a feeling I’ll still manage to eat it…

    what else should we do with rhubarb jam, other than toast? love the blue cheese pairing idea…

    Sarah, I recently got some farmers market rhubarb and it was disappointingly green as well. I admit though, I cheated when I used it and added some less local rhubarb to brighten it up. I imagine that rhubarb jam would be heaven in a thumbprint cookie or jam-filled pastry. Just sayin’! -Marisa

  25. 25
    Karen says:

    Really, really good! I just made some with my leftover rhubarb and I am glad I did – Thanks!

  26. 26

    […] going completely crazy for rhubarb back in the spring, I took a bit of a break from it in June (with all the other summer fruits and […]

  27. 27
    Nicole says:

    My grandfather had a patch of rhubarb in the corner of his garden, and we would eat it raw every year as soon as it popped up. The garden has since been plowed over and turned to grass (so sad). I was planning ahead for canning some rhubard soon, and found your recipe – looks delicious and I will definitely be trying it out.

  28. 28
    mdvlist says:

    I KNEW I could turn to you for an exciting rhubarb recipe. I can’t wait to try this one! I’ve been trying to grow rhubarb in various places around our yard ever since we moving into our house, and I’ve managed to kill 9 rhubarb starts in 5 years. Finally, a neighbor gave us a plant last summer because she hates the stuff; she had unsuccessfully tried to kill it by mowing over it, digging it up and chucking it behind her garage the previous year. Apparently, a rhubarb plant of such surpassing hardiness is the only kind of rhubarb plant that I can grow. (Now, I only hope I’m not jinxing it by saying that . . . .)

  29. 29
    Megan says:

    I can’t wait to try this. I don’t know how far of a drive you want, but I am in Bucks County and drive up every spring to Rush Rhubarb farm and buy myself a huge bag of rhubarb. Its $2/lb and its in season now. If you want their number let me know, I can find it for you.

  30. 30
    Anna K. says:

    Hubby and I made this today… AMAZING! Literally quite possibly the best jam I’ve ever had. Did come out kind of syrupy… our first time using pectin and probably could have cooked it another 2 or 3 minutes. But who cares! SO GOOD! The tea is genius!

  31. 31
    Mary Beth says:

    LURVE rhubarb. I planted a plant here and it grows like something prehistoric! I don’t know WHAT I planted, but I do prowl around neighborhoods in my car, looking for rhubarb plants that I can steal from late at night………………

  32. 32
    Casey DelliCarpini says:

    I’m just so in awe! I just ordered 40 vanilla beans and this shall be added to my list of all things vanilla, which includes also your creamsicle jelly recipe. I haven’t used rhubarb too much, but have made the obligatory strawberry-rhubarb pie, and look forward to trying more things. 🙂

  33. 33
    Astrid says:

    Is all liquid pectin the same? Does the brand matter? Also, could I add vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean (although, I’ll admit that the vanilla bean addition sounds dreamy!). This might be my first year where my rhubarb is productive enough to make jam! I can only hope! (if not, farmers’ market here I come!)

    • 33.1
      Marisa says:

      I prefer the Ball brand liquid pectin, as opposed to the Certo kind. I’ve just found that it sets better. You can use vanilla extract, though it doesn’t lend the same depth of flavor and you won’t have those gorgeous vanilla bean flecks throughout your jam.

  34. 34
    Lisa says:

    Can you use frozen rhubarb?

  35. 35
    Dollie says:

    i grew up with rhubarb growing around our icendiary, it must have loved the ash, burning trash provided. as a child my grandmother would fix rhubard shortcake and rhubard pie….i still love making these recipes instead of using strawberries. yummmm!

  36. 36

    […] with it before but everywhere I turn I’m seeing fantastic sounding recipes like this one for vanilla rhubarb jam on FoodinJars. Ahhh, […]

  37. 37
    Melissa says:

    My rhubarb is poking up right now. This will be the first year of canning for me, and I believe this will be my first recipe. Can’t wait!

  38. 38
    abby says:

    Just picked up a ton of Rhubarb at the chestnut hill farmer’s market today, can’t wait to make this!

  39. 39
    beth says:

    Just made this after seeing it on your FB page and it is officially my go-to rhubarb jam! YUM! Finally, a rhubarb jam that is actually a bit tart and screams “I am rhubarb, hear me roar!” instead of whimpering something about being some rhubarb drunk on sugar. ;o) Love.

  40. 40

    […] 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 […]

  41. 41
    Cathy Anderson says:

    I love your blog! I am so glad I saw your article in Country Woman. I bet you get a lot of responses. I am looking for an old recipe that my mom used to make. She is gone and I didn’t get her recipe. She made the best custard rhubarb pie. I’ve never seen a recipe for this anywhere. Anyone out there have this delicious recipe?

    Cathy
    Yakima, Washington

  42. 42
    Kristina says:

    There is an episode of Friends when Joey eats a huge amount of jam because he accidentally spit in the pot. I made this jam this morning. I really wanted to spit in the pot! Outstanding recipe.

  43. 43
    colleen says:

    How would you substitute non-liquid pectin in this recipe?

  44. 44
    Esther says:

    Just planted my own little patch of rhubarb this January (so I won’t be harvesting my own this year), but it’s already started showing up at my grocery store so I know I’ll be making this in the next few weeks. Thanks for the great recipe…my whole family is looking forward to eating this in the future.

  45. 45

    […] for Vanilla Rhubarb Jam taken from Food in Jars. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  46. 46
    Sarah says:

    I made this jam yesterday and gave my neighbors a jar. They just sent a text that it is delicious on vanilla gelato. YUM!

  47. 47

    […] you are interested in the recipe for Vanilla-Rhubarb Jam, visit Food in Jars.  I’ve used this blog for many of my canning recipes, and am excited […]

  48. 48
    Rachel says:

    Holy cow!!! The BEST Rhubarb jam recipie hands down!! Just got done making a batch and I can’t stop eating the stuff. Can’t wait to use this in my thumbprint cookies for the family reunion next week. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  49. 49
    Heather says:

    Decided on a whim to make rhubarb jam this morning. I put in 2 packages of liquid pectin and sadly, I have more of a sauce than a jam…I refuse to open it all up and redo so we will enjoy rhubarb sauce on our ice cream and pancakes!

  50. 50
    Ivriniel says:

    It’s interesting that you associate the smell of rhubarb with apples. I hadn’t really noticed that, but last year I was made some crab apple butter, and as it was cooking away, I thought it smelt of rhubarb!

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