Rhubarb Goes Out with a Jam

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By Cathy Erway

Rhubarb came and went, flooding the farmers’ markets and our food media (including this great savory application) for a few weeks of spring – like a sudden bout of hayfever, only more welcome. Then, it was gone, while new arrivals like strawberries took the spotlight. I had no reason to think that I’d see rhubarb again before next year, until an overnight package from an exceedingly generous acquaintance with a home garden in Massachusetts arrived at my door: Rhubarb: five or six pounds of the juicy, pinkish green stalks.

Such an overload for a one-person dwelling requires swift action. That weekend, I made an enormous pie, piled inches deep with rhubarb — just rhubarb, no room for strawberries here — and covered with a crust that bowed like a circus tent. That used up about a fourth of them. A week rushed by and I worried that the rest of them would get claimed by the compost, but a rainy day proved to be their salvation.

Bumbling around in the kitchen for the good part of the afternoon, I made two jams, one with rhubarb with lots of fresh mint (which I’d given a test-run by putting some spearmint leaves in that pie), and a spicy rhubarb jam with red chile flakes and candied lemon peel. The peel had been worked in thinking that I’d need to purchase a lemon to add tartness to both jams; as it turned out, rhubarbs are perfect without. Both are uniquely delicious, and, on toast and pancakes, will let me savor rhubarb all year.

Rhubarb & Mint Jam

(makes about 1 16 oz. jar)

2 overflowing cups chopped rhubarb

3/4 cup sugar

1 large handfuls fresh mint leaves

1. Cook rhubarb and sugar over medium heat 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until only very slightly chunky and no longer frothy. Add mint leaves.

2. Meanwhile, sterilize jar and its lid by boiling completely submerged in water for 10 minutes. Remove carefully with tongs. Fill jar with jam and seal tightly. Place jar upright in the same pot of boiling water, adjusting water level so that it just reaches the bottom of the jar’s lid. Boil for 10 minutes longer to process. Remove and let cool, and store unrefrigerated until opened.
Rhubarb, Chili & Lemon Peel Jam

(makes about 1 16 oz. jar)

2 overflowing cups chopped rhubarb

1 cup sugar

3 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1 lemon

1. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice to reserve for another use. Place squeezed halves in a pot with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, and drain water. Fill again with cold water and repeat bringing to a boil and draining three times. Let lemon halves cool.

2. Peel away pith and trim the peel to no more than 1/8 of an inch from the outer surface of the lemon. (Any white stuff will be bitter, the translucent yellow stuff is what you’re aiming for.) Slice the trimmed peel into matchsticks.

3. In a medium pot, combine the rhubarb, sugar, chile flakes and lemon peel and cook over medium or medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, adding extra sugar or more spice if desired.

4. In a separate, large pot, sterilize a mason jar and its lid by boiling completely submerge in the water for 10 minutes. Remove carefully with tongs. Fill the jar with the jam and seal tightly. Place the jar upright in the pot of hot water (adjusting water level so that it just reaches the bottom of the jar’s lid), and boil for another 10 minutes to process. Remove with tongs and let cool completely. Jar can be stored at room temperature until opened.

Posted in Produce

4 Comments

  1. MYFOODTHOUGHTS said...

    This is what I’m talking about, Bittman! Needed a simple recipe for something to do with this leftover rhubarb. Thanks a bunch!

  2. janecappy said...

    Great, but also great is some rhubarb jam I made with the addition of candied ginger and lemon peel

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