Monday, 9 April 2012

Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam

When I think of making jam, I think: 'oh groan...who has the time to be standing in front of the stove stirs vats of jam?' But revelation! The secret is not to make too much in one go, how much jam do you want taking up your cupboard space anyway? I thought I'd try something other than a crumble with my rhubarb. It's sweet sour earthy flavour is unique. What a wonderful underrated vegetable, or is it a fruit? Well, in the US it is classified as a fruit due to a court ruling back in the 1940's and in the UK it is defined as a vegetable. So it's a vegetable that likes to go incognito and often pops up in the most unusual places like desserts and jams.

A word of warning, this rhubarb and vanilla jam is so delicious it is like eating pudding. I ended up eating mine out the jar.

400g rhubarb
400g jam sugar
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways
juice of half a lemon

Put a small plate in the freezer. Chop rhubarb to 3cm pieces. Put the rhubarb into a preserving pan or your largest saucepan with the sugar and halved vanilla pods.

Heat gently, stirring, until all the sugar has dissolved, then squeeze in the lemon juice and increase the heat. Make certain all the sugar has dissolved before boiling. Boil for about 10 mins, skimming off the scum as you go. (the fruit should be soft).
Setting point when surface wrinkles
Test for setting point by spooning a little onto your chilled plate. After 1-2 mins, push your spoon through the jam - if the surface wrinkles it is ready, if not, keep cooking for 2-min intervals, testing in between. Or if you have a sugar thermometer it should reach 105C.

Once the jam is ready, let it cool for about 15 mins before ladling into warm sterilised jars and sealing. Will keep for 6 months in a cool, dark place. Serve on croissants or fresh bread.

Makes two medium sized jars or 4 small jars of jam.

First time jamers: you are a first time jam maker you may find this link very useful. Ten steps to jam making by Delia.

Sterilising jars: Wash your jars in hot, soapy water, then leave in a low oven to dry completely. Keep them warm. Alternatively, run the jars and lids through a hot dishwasher cycle, then let them dry.

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