April Can Jam: Rosemary Rhubarb Jam

April 24, 2010(updated on January 23, 2023)


Despite having known about the April Can Jam challenge for more than a month (I helped pick the topic, after all), I still waited until the VERY last minute to make my jam. What can I say, I’m motivated by deadlines (although I do sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a bit of daylight with which to take my photos).

rhubarb stalks

Happily, all the time I invested in delaying the actual making paid off, because when I finally went to the kitchen, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Rhubarb. Rosemary. Sugar. A bit of lemon. Oh yes.

I’ve been smitten with the flavor of rosemary since I was in high school. We had several large bushes in our front yard and I would often grasp one of the fragrant fronds as I walked down the driveway on my way out of the house, to carry the scent with me. I’ve often wished that I had followed the lead of our neighbor, who would snip an armful to float in her bathwater.

squeezing lemon

I know that a lot of people struggled with this particular challenge, because it was at once very specific and yet totally open. However, I’ve loved seeing all the ways that people have applied herbs to their pickles and preserves. I do hope this will lead to further herbal experimentation (pure thoughts, kids) as we move into the heart of the canning season.

jarred jam

4.67 from 3 votes

Rosemary Rhubarb Jam

Servings: 3 Half Pints


  • 4 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 generous fronds of rosemary
  • 2 lemons zested and juiced


  • In a large, non-reactive pot, combine the rhubarb, sugar, rosemary and lemon juice.
  • Stir so that the sugar coats everything evenly and let it sit for 30-45 minutes, until it looks juicy. Place pot on the heat bring to a bubble. Cook until the rhubarb has broken down (7-10 minutes).
  • Let the jam boil for 2 minutes and remove the pot from heat (with a batch this size, it is very easy to overcook the jam).
  • Add the lemon zest and stir to combine.
  • Remove the rosemary fronds.
  • Pour jam into prepared jars.
  • Wipe rims, apply lids, screw on bands and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
  • When time is up, remove jars to a towel-lined countertop and let cool.

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68 thoughts on "April Can Jam: Rosemary Rhubarb Jam"

  • ohh I’m imagining the possibilities of this jam. it sounds like it would make a lovely glaze for chicken and also maybe lamb! does the process time change if using pints? you know for those of us who were silly and forgot to buy half pints!

  • That looks delicious. Where’d you find the rhubarb? Only one guy had it at our farmer’s market last weekend.

  • Kay, I think you could easily double this. I wouldn’t double the pectin though, mine came out with a very firm set (if you feel comfortable canning without pectin and just cooking it to 220 degrees, you could even skip the pectin).

  • Doris, they’ve had rhubarb at the Rittenhouse farmers market for the last two weeks. Sue’s Produce also has it.

  • I think my plans for rhubarb crumb bars and rhubarb sodas just went out the window to be replaced with rhubarb rosemary jam. Or maybe I should make rosemary rhubarb syrup since I’m still a bit jam rich from my jam efforts last summer… too many things and not enough time or rhubarb in the house.

  • This week was the very first week of rhubarb at my market and I’ve been mulling over recipes. This is absolutely perfect! You’ve made my day. 🙂

  • Just bought some rhubarb at Greensgrow this morning. You just helped me give it a future. I love the idea of putting something floral and pungent with some tart. I’m picturing it slathered on oatmeal scones with plenty of Amish butter.

  • This sounds fantastic. We’re almost at rhubarb season here and I can’t wait to make this. This is my first year venturing into canning and I couldn’t be more excited.

  • Yum! I love the thought of those two smells on your hands when you were done cutting. Just cutting rhubarb for custard pie right now. I must have had the week wrong for can jam since I put mine up last week. Hope it gets picked up in the round up!

  • Ran out of rhubarb three cups in… I hope raisins work just as well. Will let you know how it turns out!

  • I happened to have everything except the pectin on hand so I just made a batch and cooked it to 220. I forgot to put in the lemon zest, too – oops! This is a great jam! My “taste testers” loved it – my 3 year old ran off with the bowl and finished it. My 7 year old gave it a thumbs up, my 10 year old said it was wonderful, and my 5 year old actually asked for the recipe. Thank you so much!

  • Sounds delicious. For those who don’t have rhubarb planted, I recommend it. It’s an old fashioned and easy plant to grow. I just love the combination of rhubarb and strawberries in pie, sauce, and jam. I haven’t tried the combination of rhubarb and rosemary. Gives me something to think about.

  • Marisa- So does this come out sweet? or savory? or both? I have to say I would never have envisioned this combination of flavors. hmmm.. 🙂

  • I tripled this recipe last night and it made 18 half pints. I used just one bag of liquid pectin so it’s a sauce rather than jam, but still delicious. It’s good over oatmeal, classes up pancakes and, as another commenter noted, will be a great cocktail syrup. Thanks for this great blog and recipe!

  • Hey there,
    I tried this recipe exactly and my jam came out runny. I have never used liquid pectin before…I doubled the recipe but used only one packet of liquid pectin per your instructions. I did use an immersion blender to puree the rhubarb a bit, I had cooked it more the 7-10 minutes and there were still several large chunks so I wanted to thin it up a bit, I’m afraid I did it too much. It tastes great, but is more of a thin paste or sauce. I’m now feeling liquid pectin shy…please help!

    1. Hey Sarah, it sounds like you may not have cooked the jam long enough. When you double a recipe, you do have to cook it more because you’ve increased the volume without increasing the surface area where the evaporation occurs.

  • Oh Thank you Marisa,
    The recipe said to cook the rhubarb 7-10 min and then after the pectin addition 2 min. Would you double both amounts of time?

  • i just made this and i had a little taste off the spoon, yum! i don’t have liquid pectin so i used a packed of crystals. seems to have worked fine.
    i like how the rosemary taste is not too over powering. the flavor of this jam can only be described as earthy! i feel like i am in a pine forest picking & eating tart berries!

  • I made this last night. It was my first foray into canning and I am so thrilled; it is absolutely delicious! Thank you!

  • This is an amazing jam! The lemon is very prevalent, but plays so well with the rhubarb and rosemary… Looking forward to enjoying these fresh flavors in the dead of winter. Thank you!

  • Thanks for the recipe. O I have rosemary in the front yard and plenty of Rhubarb in the garden. Just to let you know I jelled some apricots with almonds and basil. What a treat.

  • I just made this today, and it’s delicious! So easy, I made it during my 1 year old’s naptime!

  • I just finished making this jam – it is delicious! I doubled the batch and used rhubarb I purchased from the St. Paul Farmer’s Market yesterday. I didn’t use pectin and cooked it to 220 – it worked very well. This is definitely one I’ll make again.

  • I’m a little confused – several people have made this, making reference to the pectin used . . . . I don’t see any pectin in the recipe or instructions. How much pectin am I to use, when do I add it? This combo sounds amazing and I have some rhubarb in my fridge ready to go!! please help.

    1. There’s no need for pectin. My guess is that it has been removed from the original recipe. All you need is lemon juice for the jam to gel.

  • I made this the other day. It gelled perfectly with just the lemon juice, which I loved, but the flavor of the rhubarb was overpowered by lemon and rosemary. My lemons were particularly large and I accidentally included some peel in the initial cooking and then added extra at the end, which was probably a mistake. I took one sprig of rosemary out before the end of cooking, but it was still too much. In the future I would use just one sprig of rosemary, and I would hold back some of the lemon zest unless the lemons were unusually small.

  • I just made this this afternoon, and it is one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted! I love experimenting with different rhubarb combinations.

  • Got a bunch of rhubarb this morning between a farmstand and my friend’s CSA, so gave this a whirl (ginger/cinnamon instead of rosemary). I think it’s more likely to be rhubarb sauce … phone rang at the WRONG time … pot tried to boil over … I think I killed the pectin :).

    It’s going for 10 minutes in the water canner anyway. Tastes divine — and ice cream can ALWAYS use a fruity-gingery-citrusy-chunky sauce!

  • I’ve just made, from my second year of growing rhubarb, your Rosemary Rhubarb Jam. OMG!!
    Can’t wait to try it on warm scones or over vanilla ice cream! Thank you!

  • Giving this another go tonite. Jarlifter in upright position. Apron protecting the bosom. Added a glug of gin to complement the rosemary.

  • Forgot to mention, my previous attempt, more sauce than jam, made an INSANE Greek yogurt semifreddo!!

  • I just made a batch of this because nothing else in my garden is quite ready to process. Also, I just kept staring at the rhubarb and couldn’t bring myself to make yet another crumble. THIS IS AMAZING. It was easy and sooo good. I made a second batch immediately and finally polished off my rhubarb. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • This might be a silly question, but do you add water (or any other liquids besides lemon juice) when making this recipe? Thanks. niina

    1. Nope, no need to add any additional liquid. The sugar and heat will pull liquid out of the rhubarb and it will be plenty juicy.

  • thanks, Marisa, I realized that once the mixture stood in sugar for a bit :). Could you help me with another question, please? I did this batch and a batch of your orange rhubarb butter yesterday. All cans have sealed, but both batches remain liquid and do not appear to thicken up. It’s that normal, or did I do something wrong? Can I add pectin to help them set?
    the canning newbie

  • Mmmmm…this sounds yummy! Would you mind if I share it? I hope to make some rhubarb jam and would never have thought to add rosemary! Can’t wait to try it~

    (Pat M)

  • I LOVE this recipe but am trying to cut down on processed sugar. Can this be made with honey instead? Will I need to add some pectin as a result?

    1. It’s really a whole different recipe and process if you reduce the sugar and use Pomona’s Pectin to make it set. That said, you can certainly try it. Also, have you checked out my book Naturally Sweet Food in Jars? It might help you out if you’re trying to reduce processed sugar.

  • Please Help!
    I’m trying to make the Rosemary Rhubarb jam. I’ve followed the recipe in the book, “Preserving By the Pint”. The first time my yield was two half pint jars, but I had to squeeze the liquid in the cheese cloth to get enough yield. The second time same thing, I followed what the recipe calls for (one pound of rhubarb, and weighed it, 1-1/2 cups of sugar, 1-1/2 cups of water, 1 T pectin). It turned out like kids gelatin. I can still warm it up and put it on ice cream I suppose.
    Specifically dealing with this recipe, what am I missing? I’m getting frustrated.

    1. It sounds to me like you’re overcooking the jelly. That would account for both the lower yield and the consistency. If you are going strictly by the temperature, it may be that your thermometer isn’t calibrated properly, or that it’s not submerged deeply enough in the cooking liquid. I’d suggest you read through this blog post for an alternative method for checking set. https://foodinjars.com/blog/check-set-plate-test/

  • Thank you, Marisa. I have another batch to make, and will look into these ideas. It is possible my pot wasn’t deep enough, now that I think about it. I appreciate your response. When I figure it out, I will let you know.

  • I have finished with my next batch of Rosemary Rhubarb. I observed that the fruit did indeed seem on the drier side. Also, my thermometer wouldn’t go past 210. I opted for the freezer/saucer method. I did get 2 cups of liquid this time, so I’m pretty confident that the problem was cooking too long (I added one extra cup of fruit the second time). I also changed to a pot instead of a skillet, I don’t know if this was a factor or not. I yielded two have pints. I enjoyed trying it again, and I especially am in love with the fourth burner pot. I highly recommend this for the small batches. I will also be getting a new candy thermometer just to have on hand, but I like the freezer method. Thank you, Marisa.

    1. I’m really glad to hear that you found a way to make the recipe work for you. And the freezer method is a useful one for testing for set!

  • I made this recently, but I am allergic to lemons, so I substituted 6 tablespoons unsweetened cranberry juice (not cranberry cocktail).

    Turned out pretty good.

  • I had a cup of strawberries and about a cup of cherries that needed to be used up so added to this recipe, cooking up now, do I need to add more lemon to it since I added more fruits?

    1. This jam can be canned in pints, half pints, or quarter pints. The processing time is at sea level. If you live above 1,000 in elevation, you need to adjust your processing time.

  • 5 stars
    I made this last night, The batch was a small yeild – Approx 3 cups and the boil time was longer than noted in the recipe to reach set point. We don’t water bath where I live so I used hot, sterile jars. All jars sealed and the jam has a lovely set.
    The flavours are delicious! The rhubarb flavour is mild – perhaps because I peeled my rhubarb. The rosemary is lovely and punchy. My taste buds were doing a dance this morning when I sampled the end result.
    I’m looking forward to gifting a small jar or two to family and friends this year.

    Thank you for sharing

  • 4 stars
    Hello. Thanks for this recipe. Normally you’re supposed to turn off the heat and remove the lid after the processing time and let stand for 5 minutes in part of the processing time. I wonder if you forgot to mention this step. Also, is it supposed to be 1/4 or 1/2 inch headspace? Thanks again. I love your page

    1. Thank you. I am aware of that practice. This post is over a decade old and that wasn’t current practice when I wrote this recipe. I’ve not had a chance to update it. And 1/2 inch headspace.