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Archive for June, 2012

Bebop-a-rebop, Rhubarb…Jam!

Mama’s little baby loves rhubarb, rhubarb.

Mama’s little baby loves rhubarb jam!

(With apologies to A Prarie Home Companion, the closest thing we have to a real 1930s-style radio show. It’s awfully hard to come up with a song title featuring rhubarb!)

Anyway, I had a real adventure in Depression-era cooking the other day. I made rhubarb jam and rosemary-olive oil sourdough bread from scratch.

I have an abundance of rhubarb this year- every couple of weeks I cut about 10 pounds of it from our established patch at the cabin, plus I have a young plant here at the house that is producing a bit this year. I have used it fresh, frozen it, canned it- you name it, I have done it this year.

The one thing I did want to try was making rhubarb jam. I haven’t bought supermarket jam in years; it is so easy to make your own. If you have never done any canning, this is probably the easiest way to start. Last summer I made peach jam and a bushel of peaches made close to a dozen pints, so I knew I would get plenty out of the rhubarb. Here’s a tutorial on raspberry jam as well.

I was hoping to find a recipe that was a little different than straight rhubarb jam, so I looked to one of my fave food bloggers and found this one: http://www.foodinjars.com/2010/04/april-can-jam-rosemary-rhubarb-jam/ with rosemary and lemon zest. I love rosemary and always have some fresh on hand, so that sounded good to me.

Her yield was 3 half pints from 4 cups chopped rhubarb. Since my 10 pounds would yield substantially more than 4 cups, I had to increase the proportions. This can be very problematic with jams and jellies, because the larger the batch, the more difficult it is to get a good set. I was originally hoping to find a recipe without added pectin, but once I saw the proportions I figured I should add some to make sure.

I ended up with close to 12 cups chopped rhubarb, so added about 7 cups sugar (just thinking about it makes my teeth hurt, but rhubarb always needs a lot of sugar) one lemon’s worth of zest, and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary.

Chop the rhubarb. Make sure you use only the stems, as the leaves of the plant are poisonous. 

Put the rhubarb in a stock pot with the sugar. Allow it to sit (without turning it on) for about half an hour until the sugar starts to liquefy.

Add rosemary sprigs and any other seasoning (I also threw in some whole coriander). 

Cook for 30-45 mins until the mixture begins to look like jam, but not real thick.

Add one envelope of pectin and stir while boiling for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add lemon zest.

Fill clean warm jars, leaving about a half inch of headspace. I removed the large sprigs of rosemary, but didn’t go to any great lengths to remove the smaller bits. (My family will no doubt complain about “pine needles” in the jam, LOL)

Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

Remove from the water and listen for the seals to set. My yield was 5 pints, plus two smaller jars for gift giving.

I spread it on some fresh rosemary-olive oil sourdough bread I made the same day. I was really busy in the kitchen that day, but it was so worth it! The jam came out really well- the rosemary flavor is very subtle and the lemon zest very bright. If I make this again, I might use only half the lemon zest. Rhubarb has a very citrus-y flavor as it is, so I’m not sure it’s even necessary to add the lemon.