While my rhubarb plants aren’t anywhere near harvesting (and won’t be for a couple of years) I can’t let spring pass without eating as much of it as I can. Rhubarb’s tart tanginess makes it a great candidate for jam or jelly. Because I’m kinda lazy, I prefer making jams, with whole pieces of the fruit (or vegetable in this case,) in them. I also think jams tend to look a little more luxurious.

I’ve been looking for good quality rhubarb for a long time, but it wasn’t until this week that I found some that wasn’t limp, pale and dry. Whole Foods happened to have a small quantity of really beautiful, ruby red, organic rhubarb at $2.99 a pound. I bought just more than two pounds. The more red your raw rhubarb is, the more red your jam will be. Some varieties are more green than red – it has nothing to do with ripeness – but I think the red stalks make a much prettier jam.

 

Making jam is actually pretty easy. I don’t use any special equipment. First, get a big pot of water boiling – leave it about 2/3 full.) Carefully drop empty jars and boil them for at least five minutes to sterilize. Then trim the rhubarb, then weigh it – mine came in right near two pounds. Dice it small, then boil it on high in a large pan with one cup of water. After it comes to a boil, add a package of pectin. Because rhubarb has some acid, it doesn’t need lemon juice to activate the pectin. After the pectin is incorporated, add sugar. For two pounds of rhubarb, I used four cups of sugar. Turn the heat down to medium, stir the sugar until it dissolves, and bring back to a boil. After one minute at a full boil, turn off the heat.

Now you’re ready to fill sterilized jars. Carefully lift them out of the boiling water with sterilized tongs and drain any water out of them. Fill the jars with a sterilized spoon leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top of the jar, and place sterilized wax seal lids on top. Screw on the rings tight and return the full jars to the boiling water. Make sure the water come up over the tops of all the jars. Boil them for five minutes, and then you’re done! Pull the jars out, dry them off, and set them on the countertop overnight. In a little bit, you should hear a popping noise. That’s the lid letting you know you have created an airtight seal and that your jam was a success. If any of the lids don’t pop, you can store those jars in the fridge safely for about a month.

Out of my two pounds of rhubarb, I got six and a half cups of jam. (The extra half cup went into the fridge.) It set up really well – maybe my best jam yet in terms of texture. It also turned out to be really inexpensive – less than $8 in ingredients, for a cost of $1.33 a cup. Try finding that at the store! We’ve already eaten it with bread and butter, and on top of vanilla ice cream with walnuts. Six cups should last us until next spring, and leave plenty for gifts.

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