Skip to content

rhubarb & orange jam

RhubarbOrangeJam-8

One of the fruits that I remember adoring from early girlhood was rhubarb. The other was watermelon. I think the love I had for watermelon had more to do with the “staging” than anything else.  Warm July or August, my mom would set me on a sun-warmed patio step. She’d lower a plate into my lap stacked with deep red watermelon wedges, polka-dotted with their shiny black seeds. The sugary juice would drip down my tan arms and fall from my elbows. I remember first her demonstrating, and then her happy encouragement that I spit the seeds as far as I could. (They’d be sprouting like weeds the next summer!) If seed-shooting was what watermelon-eating was still about, I’d probably still be eating it. I’m not sure when and how it happened that watermelons lost their favor with me.  But rhubarb endures. I’ve learned over time that if ever life combines sweet with tart, it makes me deliciously happy.

Those long red and green rhubarb stalks are beginning to appear in our local markets. And with plump, heavy-with-juice navel oranges stacked high, it was time to break out the canning gear. If you’d rather just put jars in the freezer, you can avoid the canning piece.  Seeing these color-filled jars (and others like them) lined up on pantry shelves gives one a sense that all is well, and that (to me) seems worth the effort (even if it’s only an illusion.)

On fresh bread toasted, or (even better!) on buttery brioche, or on a bagel with its thick slab of cream cheese, or spooned over breakfast yogurt, parfait-style, it’s a tart sweet treat.

Rhubarb and Orange Jam

  • 2 navel oranges
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (reserving the squeezed hulls and seeds)
  • 3 pounds rhubarb, trimmed of any green or soft areas, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 9 cups)
  • 2 cups sugar

Prepare for water-bath canning. Sterilize the jars and keep them hot in the canning pot. Put a small plate in the freezer, and put the flat lids in a heat-proof bowl.

Use a vegetable peeler to cut the outer zest from the oranges, then stacking the slices, cut them into thin julienne strips. Working over a bowl to catch the juices, segment the orange. (If you’d like tips on how, see here.) Reserve the membrane. Put the membranes and any seeds, along with the reserved lemon hulls and seeds, in a cheesecloth bag and tie the bag closed. (Pectin appears naturally in these parts of the fruit and will result in the thickening and setting of the jam.)

Put the zest, orange, rhubarb, lemon juice and sugar in a wide, heavy 6- to 8-quart  pot.

Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the juices just cover the fruit, 10 to 15 minutes. Now nestle the “jelly bag” in the fruit. Boil over high heat, stirring frequently, until a small dab of the jam spooned onto the chilled plate and returned to the freezer for a minute becomes somewhat firm in about 15 minutes. (It will not gel.) Skim the foam off the top of the jammy mixture, then remove from the heat and stir gently for a few seconds to distribute the fruit in its liquid.

To sterilize the lids, ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the bowl with lids. Using a jar lifter, remove the sterilized jars from the canning pot, carefully emptying the water from each one back into the pot. Place jars upright on a folded towel. Drain the water off the jar lids.

Ladle the hot jam into the jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid and ring on each jar, adjusting the ring so that it’s just finger-tight. Return the jars to the water in the canning pot, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch. Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes to process. Remove the jars to a folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours. After 1 hour, check that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of each; if it can be pushed down, it hasn’t sealed and the jar should be refrigerated right away.  (If using Weck jars, as seen here, seeing the tab of the orange rubber ring pointing down is proof that the seal is secure.)

~ ~ ~

This recipe is only slightly adapted from one appearing in Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff

~ ~ ~

For a printer-friendly copy of this recipe, click here.

~ ~ ~

54 Comments Post a comment
  1. Beautiful – we don´t often find rhubarb here in Spain, but I love it too. Such a beautiful colour, and such a unique taste. I am envious ;)

    February 29, 2012
    • I can imagine how you’d miss rhubarb – you grew up with it, right? And I saw and d r o o l e d over your orange marmalade this morning Tanya. Including the link here for others to see. (Trying to insert a link didn’t work.) To see Tanya’s recipe for Orange Marmalade, copy and paste…
      http://chicaandaluza.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/orange-marmalade/

      February 29, 2012
      • Yes, rhubarb was very English and part of my diet! And thanks for including the link – will do the same :) Good idea!

        February 29, 2012
  2. I want some!!!

    February 29, 2012
    • Come on over!!

      February 29, 2012
      • Oregon is on my list!

        March 1, 2012
        • Then add our guest room to your list Lesley!

          March 1, 2012
  3. Looks so rustic and delicious…..spring is calling!!

    February 29, 2012
    • Something about rhubarb has that old-time feel for sure!

      February 29, 2012
  4. The knickerbocker glory glass is a master stroke, making the shot look fabulous.

    February 29, 2012
    • Thanks Roger…rhubarb isn’t the most ravishing of subjects…though she’s still got good taste.

      February 29, 2012
  5. I love everything about this post, Spree! The image of you enjoying watermelon on your front porch, the richly colored photos, and the clear canning instructions all combine to make a wonderful post. I’ve only one teeny tiny problem. I do not like rhubarb at all. Oh, how many times I’ve tried it! Each and every time, the dish was lovingly prepared for me and I’ve been assured that “my recipe” is the one that I’ll like. Embarrassingly, I’ve not liked a one. So, while I greatly admire your handiwork with this post, I hope you’ll understand when I say “No, thank you,” when this particular jam is offered.

    February 29, 2012
    • You’ve earned so many credits with me John, that I’d forgive you anything, even not liking my rhubarb jam. :) (and I’m as sure as I can be that you wouldn’t like mine any better than the others’. ) but perhaps my rhubarb galette? ;)

      February 29, 2012
  6. I love rhubarb jam! I usually put strawberries in mine. I would have never thought to put orange. I will have to try this some time. Thanks for sharing :)

    February 29, 2012
    • My pleasure to share! Orange and rhubarb is a great combo, but so are rhubarb and strawberry! Thanks for leaving a comment!

      February 29, 2012
  7. That’s a wonderful story about you eating the watermelons! And I’m looking forward to rhubarb season here soon! Great recipe

    February 29, 2012
  8. Jean-François #

    I love everything about this: marrying rhubarb and orange, the use of the zest, and using the seeds and membranes for pectin. The photos rock too – great, vibrant colors.

    February 29, 2012
    • Jean-Francois, thank you! This is one of those marriages that must have been predestined! ;) I have every confidence, it’s gonna last!

      February 29, 2012
  9. Don #

    I had forgotten how much you loved rhubarb as a child! I always did think you were slightly “Teched” for that, until much later when I discovered how good it really was. That was in an apple/ rhubarb pie marriage. One of those crazy thick country fair numbers, all piled high in the dish with raw sugar sprinkles on top.
    I gotta try your jam, sounds fantastic!

    February 29, 2012
    • You were always a bit “slow” to catch on Don, but your good humor and looks made up for quite a bit of that. ;)
      (apple/rhubarb pie! now THAT sounds good!)

      February 29, 2012
  10. OK, if you had some jam set aside for John… you can please forward it on to me:) I’m absolutely crazy for rhubarb! And I love the whole idea of canning it like this, I’ve not done any canning before… I’ve always just frozen my jam, but you’re beautiful post is giving me the courage to try, spree! I love your food photography, so pretty!! Btw, did you use your weck jars to can? I was wondering if you can reuse the rubber rings (I have a few of these jars but haven’t canned with them.) xo Smidge xo

    February 29, 2012
    • Smidge – oh, you see?! I KNEW we were related! ;) This is a very easy canning recipe Smidge, and loving rhubarb, a great place to begin!! Yes, I used Weck jars for canning, and LOVE them! Yes, reuse the rubber rings again and again. They’ll let you know when they’re tired. As I said in the post, the whole trick to knowing you have a good seal is that the little tab on the rubber ring will go from sitting perpendicular to pointing downward. After the initial “do not disturb” phase (12 hours) just remove the metal clips and then the jars will all neatly stack on one another. (And not that anyone else would be interested but my sister Smidge might – I bought Weck quart “milk” jugs too – transfer cartoned milk to those – great for pouring and great for knowing how much you have left. Also have other Wecks that I put my HOME-MADE Smidge-inspired yogurt in. Leftovers go in them too, see what you’ve got lurking in the fridge, and microwave them warm again. Not much use for plastic in this house!) Thanks for your comments!! xoxo

      February 29, 2012
  11. Gorgeous! I always think of you when I taste (or see) rhubarb. This sounds do-able, too, and yummy!

    February 29, 2012
    • Ali #

      Me too Sis!! Gotta try this for sure!

      March 1, 2012
      • Ali #

        And a post about rhubarb signifies spring around the corner!! I remember knowing that as soon as I saw you making rhubarb sauce in the kitchen, blue skies were up ahead. Love your photos mama!

        March 1, 2012
  12. Val #

    Spree, you have tickled me pink and a little orange. Have you tried rhubarb and apple jam? It’s really good!

    February 29, 2012
  13. m&m #

    Beautiful! I have similar memories in my grandparents backyard eating pears straight from the tree.

    February 29, 2012
    • ahhh nice!! sun-warmed juicy pears straight from the tree to the mouth – just like nature intended! :)

      February 29, 2012
  14. I love rhubarb jam. I have never tried it with orange but this is really stunning. I can think of so many ways to use this, my mind boggles. I have to head out to grab some canning goods. Take care, BAM

    February 29, 2012
  15. Fabulous, now I would love to see you bake it into something:]

    February 29, 2012
  16. I haven’t tried rhubarb. Looks just delicious. Great combo.

    February 29, 2012
  17. Your photography is so colorful for this recipe and color provides about half the enjoyment when consuming food, I think. Great job as always. I do have one question though. I like rhubarb and I like oranges and strawberries and all the other fruits that you might pair with rhubarb but I’m not a big fan–to put it most understatedly–of sugar, having come around to the view of a lot of contemporary research that the heightened consumption of sugar lies at the heart of many of our public health ills and that while it is relatively slow acting, it does us considerable harm in the long run. My question then is, have you yourself ever experimented with a sugar substitute, such as stevia or other natural sugar substitutes for cooking and if so do you have any recommendations?

    February 29, 2012
    • Joe, I completely understand and agree with your concerns about sugar. I’ll do some looking into it so that I can respond with more surety, but here’s my short and “skinny” version: the body treats all natural sugars pretty much the same way (beet, sugar cane, various fruit sugars, honey, agave “nectar” etc.) These are ALL simple sugars and the body creates insulin in response. Too much of that is bad on the body (to put it mildly.) Artificial sweeteners have drawbacks – all of them – either too sacherine-y sweet, nasty aftertastes, or don’t perform well in baking. Some of the “naturally occurring” sugars do have the benefit of not being completely without redeeming value – ie they are not entirely empty calories but actually have some nutritional value. (I’m thinking particularly of coconut sugar – but I’m no expert on the subject for sure!) There are plenty of specialized cookbooks replete with recipes for diabetics or others seriously interested in reducing their sugar intake but still have a yen for something sweet. Though you’ll find a fairly good smattering of desserty recipes here, my general belief and practice is: don’t eat much in the way of sweets – but when you do, enjoy them!
      I’m going to be experimenting with coconut sugar and will post the results (and hopefully some recipes) here. Thanks so much for your comments!

      March 1, 2012
  18. The details in your photos are stunning. I love rhubarb with orange and sometimes a little ginger too. And to Joseph Turner Sr….I’ve also use honey with rhubarb but I prefer sugar despite it is somewhat evil. Stevia isn’t bad but you just can’t avoid that aftertaste.

    March 1, 2012
    • Wendy, thanks very much for the comment! Ginger would be a delicious addition to rhubarb in general, and to this jam recipe too. Nice idea!! And I agree with your remarks on sugar and its substitutes!

      March 1, 2012
  19. Oh Spree, that looks wonderful -something great to do with the rhubarb that grows at the top of my garden :D

    March 1, 2012
    • oh Nick, you lucky duck! Maybe I should quit envying people with rhubarb and try growing some of my own? Y’think? :)

      March 1, 2012
  20. Deb schneider #

    Lovely story, photography, and recipe. I especially enjoyed the spitting of the watermelon seeds. We did that with peach & apricot seeds in my uncle’s yard in southern California. He had beautiful peach & apricot trees, and made scrumptious jams. Thanks for taking me back to fun, fond memories.

    March 1, 2012
  21. I feel like I can taste this through the screen! How delicious.

    March 1, 2012
  22. What lovely memories of enjoying slices of memories in the summer. Just love the image of the parfait glass.

    March 2, 2012
  23. What a beautiful way to start the day with some of your lovely jam spread on a nice warm piece of bread.

    March 2, 2012
  24. Rhubab is sadly not something we get here.
    I have been curious about it for sometime and now I know I am really missing out

    March 3, 2012
  25. I love rhubarb-orange jam! And your photos are gorgeous. I didn’t make that last year, but I think it will need to be on the list this year for sure. I love that you went light on the sugar. I may try your recipe.

    March 4, 2012
  26. the rhubarb in my garden hasn’t come up yet, so I shall save this for later. I use a different way to sterilize my jars though. I haven’t ever seen this method of putting the jars back in water to boil after you’ve filled them. What does this do, please?

    March 5, 2012
  27. Pseu – you’ve probably been making only freezer jam? The second boiling water bath is the process you go through in order to can or preserve without freezing. When done correctly, a vacuum is created inside the jar that pulls the lid down to seal it against outside contaminants and raises the temperature on the contents inside so that no bacteria can survive it. It can now be kept on the shelf at room temperature – on most foods, for a year or more. (this jam would tend to discolor slightly after a few months – but still be just as tasty & safe.) If you haven’t “canned” by this method before, you may want to do some reading up on it. :)

    March 5, 2012
    • no, I have never done freezer jam… but I use an oven method for making the jars sterilized and have never had a problem. I save old jam jars with their lids and put them all through the dishwasher, then line up the jars on a metal tray in the oven at 110c (with the ladle and jam funnel) and I boil the lids in a saucepan of water. By sealing the jars while everything is still piping hot the vacuum is produced and by minimal handling all remains clean and infection free.

      March 5, 2012
      • Pseu – I’m sorry, I misunderstood your question. I see you’re an experienced canner! ;) I always seal when things are piping hot and usually get the seal too, but I guess out of an abundance of caution, I do the boiling water bath too. Thanks for your comments, always!

        March 6, 2012
        • I wondered if that was the case :)

          March 6, 2012
  28. Glorious. Rhubarb is such a jewel. So pretty in color, so brilliant in flavor. Poor John, that he can’t eat it happily too; he may just be too sensitive to the oxalic acid (I think that’s the one in rhubarb) to like anything with it. It’s decidedly a childhood-evocative joy for me as it is for you, and one that only increases with my age and with the number of great new recipes (like this) that I learn to use it in. :D

    March 11, 2012

I love to read your words...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,147 other followers

%d bloggers like this: