Is there anything better than spreading fresh jam over hot, buttery toast? This rhubarb jam recipe is simple and beginner-friendly.
Jam has always had a special place in my heart. If you aren’t a jam fanatic, it may be because you find store-bought jam too sweet or sickly. Trust me when I say, however, this homemade rhubarb jam recipe is a game-changer. It has a tart, fresh taste with a perfectly balanced sweetness.
We are now in the full swing of spring which means it’s rhubarb season. If you’ve been able to purchase some fresh rhubarb, why not make rhubarb jam? This tangy, sweet spread is perfect for enjoying on toast, adding to baked goods, or using in desserts. In this blog, we’ll walk you through how to make rhubarb preserve step-by-step.
If you’ve never made homemade jam before, you may feel overwhelmed at the idea of making it from scratch. The good news is, my rhubarb conserve recipe only needs 4 ingredients!
- Rhubarb: As rhubarb is in season in spring, you should be able to find it easily at your local store or market. Use fresh, preferably red rhubarb. The stalks should be tender but crunchy.
- Sugar: Granulated white sugar is best for this recipe.
- Pectin: You can use liquid or powdered pectin.
- Lemon juice: Fresh lemons are best but using concentrated lemon juice is fine. Alternatively, orange juice will work.
You also need a few half-pint jars with tight-fitting lids (especially if you plan on water bath canning the jam).
How to Prepare Rhubarb for Jam
First things first, we need to make sure our jars and lids are clean and ready to store our delicious jam. Pop them in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes to sterilize them.
Then, place a small plate in the freezer. We’ll use the plate later to check the setting point of the jam. You can skip this step if you already own a sugar thermometer.
While your jars are boiling, start to prepare the rhubarb. Give it a rough chop into pieces that are about an inch long.
Then place rhubarb in a large saucepan with the sugar. If you’re using powdered pectin, add it now (if you’re using liquid, you can add it later).
Heat everything gently over medium-high heat, occasionally stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. You can mash up the fruit a bit, if you like, to your desired consistency. Once it’s all mixed, squeeze in the lemon juice and turn up the heat.
Let the mixture boil for about 10 minutes, scooping off any scum/foam that comes to the surface. The fruit should be nice and soft by this point. If you’re using liquid pectin, add it in now and let everything boil for an extra minute.
Test the Jam
Now, the fun part – test for the setting point of the jam. Get your chilled plate from the freezer and take the jam off the heat and spoon a little bit onto the cold plate.
Let it sit for a minute or two, then push your finger through the jam. If it stays put and doesn’t flood back in to fill the gap, you’re good to go! If not, keep cooking for a couple of minutes at a time, testing in between.
Alternatively, if you’ve got a sugar thermometer, you’re looking for a temperature of 220ºF/105ºC.
Jar the Jam
Once the hot jam is ready, give it a few minutes to cool down. Then ladle it into your warm, sterilized jars. Leave a bit of space at the top of the jar, about a quarter of an inch, to make sure it doesn’t overflow.
If you see any air bubbles in the jam, gently tap the jar to get rid of them. If you need to adjust the headspace, just add a bit more jam. Wipe the rim of the jar to make sure it’s clean, then place lid and screw it until it’s just finger-tight.
That’s it! Once your homemade rhubarb jam has cooled to room temperature, place it in the refrigerator. You can use it within a few weeks.
How to Can and Preserve Rhubarb Jam
If you want to keep your delicious jam tasting amazing for longer, you can use a water bath.
First off, get your canner/large pot ready to go. Fill it up with water and bring it to a nice soft boil. Then, carefully place your jars of jam into the canner, making sure they’re fully submerged in the water. Let it come back up to a boil and process for about 10 minutes.
After that, take off the lid of the canner and wait for about 5 minutes before carefully removing the hot jars from the water (with a jar lifter). Let them cool down on a rack before storing them away somewhere cool and dark. Now you can enjoy your homemade jam for months to come!
For more tips about the processing time, refer to USDA’s Guide to Home Canning.
What to Make with Rhubarb Jam
- Simply enjoy on fresh bread or add to a cheese board.
- Spread between layers of cake, the tangy flavor of rhubarb will complement any cake. I’ve personally found it works well with Jelly Roll Cake and a classic Sponge Cake.
- Spoon into mini-tarts or thumbprint cookies.
No, there’s no need to peel rhubarb for jam. Simply wash and trim the ends off the stalks.
Rhubarb is relatively low in pectin compared to other fruits, but it does contain some. It is possible to make jam without pectin as shown in my fig jam recipe.
When kept in the fridge, it can last a few weeks. Canned rhubarb jam will last for 6 months or longer.
Rhubarb is low in pectin, and pectin impacts how a jam sets.
This doesn’t mean that your jam won’t set if you make a batch of rhubarb jam without pectin. But the fact that rhubarb is low in pectin does mean that you must make sure to hit the jam setting point, temperature-wise.
Jam is thick and fruity with lots of texture. Jelly is clear and smooth as it uses the juice of rhubarb and is cooked down with sugar.
More Easy Jam Recipes
If you try this recipe for how to cook rhubarb jam, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
How to Make Rhubarb Jam
- 5 jars 1/2 pint (250 ml) each
- Food Thermometer optional to test the setting point of the jam (or use a small plate)
- Sterilize the jars and lids – place them in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Also, place a small plate in the freezer (unless you have a candy thermometer to test the setting point of the jam).
- Clean, pat dry, and roughly chop the rhubarb into 1-inch slices.
- Place the rhubarb in a large saucepan with the sugar. If you're using powdered pectin, add it now (if you're using liquid pectin, you can add it later).
- Heat everything up gently over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. You can mash up the fruit, if you like, to your desired consistency. Once it's all mixed together, squeeze in the lemon juice and turn up the heat.
- Let the mixture boil for about 10 minutes, scooping off any scum/foam that comes to the surface. The fruit should be nice and soft by this point. If you're using liquid pectin, add it in now and let everything boil for an extra minute.
- Test for the setting point of the jam. Get your chilled plate from the freezer and take the jam off the heat and spoon a little bit onto the cold plate.Let it sit for a minute or two, then push your finger through the jam. If it stays put and doesn't flood back in to fill the gap, you're good to go! If not, keep cooking for a couple of minutes at a time, testing in between. Alternatively, if you've got a sugar thermometer, you're looking for a temperature of 220ºF/105ºC.
- Once the jam is ready, let it cool down. Then ladle it into your warm, sterilized jars. Leave about 1/4 inch of space at the top of the jar. If you see any air bubbles in the jam, gently tap the jar to get rid of them. If you need to adjust the headspace, just add a bit more jam. Wipe the rim of the jar to make sure it's clean, then place the lid and screw it until it's just finger-tight.