Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam
For my birthday this past year my mother-in-law gave me The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving to further encourage my canning aspirations. Marc and I have been making jam and applesauce for years, dabbling in the occasional fruit butter. However, I was looking to move beyond the traditional strawberry, blueberry, and peach jam and into the world of unusual jams, marmalades, conserves, and pickles. Unfortunately, my birthday is in January so I have been staring longingly at the book and waiting for the day when I could pick it up and start using it.
The key players
Finally, those days are here. In anticipation of the start of u-pick fruit season and our veggie CSA I sat down with the book a few weeks ago and found myself tagging lots and lots (and lots) of recipes that I want to make. The first one I picked was for a strawberry lemon jam made without added pectin and cooked in the microwave. I made two pints of that yummy, deep red jam and I was hooked.
Lots of honey
Next up, this rhubarb and honey jam. I was fortunate to be able to take an armload of fresh rhubarb stalks from the many plants at my in-law’s house and immediately set about prepping and chopping. Overall, this recipe is pretty easy to make. The prep time is relatively low as all you have to do is clean and chop two cups of rhubarb and one tart apple (I used a Granny Smith) and zest and juice a lemon. The fruit cooks with a little water until is is bubbling and starting to break down. Then you add sugar, a lot of honey, lemon juice and some candied ginger. You cook the whole thing until it forms a gel, ladle into prepared canning jars, and process for 10 minutes. Because it is a small batch (makes 3 cups plus a little more) it cooks relatively quickly. In fact, it only took about 6 minutes of strong boiling for my gel to form. The finished jam is balance of tart and honey-sweet with the occasional bite of ginger. It is a nice option for those who like their jams a little less sweet than typical commercial products.
A couple of things to consider:
- Make sure to follow the most recent guidelines for safe boiling water canning. Properly preserved, this jam will last for a year in a cool, dark place.
- Take a few minutes to read about how to test to see if your jam is set.
Gel is almost set
Gingered Rhubarb and Honey Jam
2 cups finely chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1 lemon zested and juiced (reserve 1 tbls lemon juice)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup honey
1 1/2 tbls diced candied ginger
Prepare your jars, rings, lids, and canning vessel. I used a small stockpot with 5 jar rings tied together to serve as a rack. A nice thing about small batch canning is that I don’t have to bust out my large speckled canner which uses an enormous amount of water.
Combine the rhubarb, apple, and lemon zest in a stockpot or large saucepan with 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat, cover, and simmer until fruit is tender and starting to break down, about 15 minutes. Add the sugar, honey, lemon juice, and ginger to the pot. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat back up and bring the contents to a rapid boil that can’t be stirred down with the spoon. Boil, uncovered, stirring frequently until the jam starts to set, anywhere from 6-12 minutes. I recommend using the freezer test (link above) to test if your jam is gelled. If you watch it closely, you will see when the mixture starts to thicken and change into its gelled form.
Once the jam is set, ladle into your hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Get rid of any bubbles, wipe the rims, top the jars with the lids, put the rings on, and tighten until they are finger tight (don’t crank them on). Place the jars in the canning vessel, cover, and bring the water to a rapid boil. Once the water is boiling set your timer and process for 10 minutes. Once the 10 minutes is over, remove the canner from the heat, take the lid off, and let the jars sit for 5 more minutes.
After 5 minutes, carefully and gently remove the jars to a towel or rack set in a draft free area. Then walk away. Leave them alone and don’t touch them until they are sealed and cool (can take 12-24 hours). If you are lucky, you will hear the tell-tale “pop” of the jars sealing. If you have a jar that doesn’t seal you can either reprocess with a new lid or simply put it in the fridge and eat it first. Once the jars are sealed and cooled, remove the rings, wipe off any wayward stickiness, and store.
Apple and lemon juice both add nice amounts of pectin so you should be able to achieve a good gel. However, pectin levels vary by individual fruit so if you can’t get a good gel, process it anyway and use it as a delicious ice cream topping.
I probably don’t need to tell you how to serve jam. This jam is delicious on toast or biscuits but would also work well in more savory applications such as on top of a piece of roasted chicken or pork chops. Makes 3 1/2 cups.