For my first jam of the year I chose to make rhubarb jam. It hasn’t been easy to find rhubarb though. For such a long time, I’ve been dreaming about rhubarb, thinking about rhubarb and trying to get my hands on rhubarb, but to no avail. The green-grocer close to our place looked at me as if I was crazy and said: “Oh no, we won’t have rhubarb until June!” And then he started advertising “Dutch strawberries” to the next client. My local supermarket didn’t have rhubarb either.
Luckily, my father-in-law gave me hope when he told me that in his garden, rhubarb is growing nicely and should be ready for eating in April. And just as he predicted, on the very same day, rhubarb miraculously appeared in both the supermarket and at my greengrocer’s.
I haven’t always been this obsessed with rhubarb. On the contrary, I was pretty ignorant about it. I had no idea how it tastes. But then I tried it in cakes or rhubarb sauce and loved it. In the Netherlands, following my fascination with new food I’d never had before, I bought rhubarb and tried to figure out how to use it. Jam was the obvious option.
The first time I made it, I burned it a little. However, I decided to look at the bright side and call it “caramelized” instead of burned- it wasn’t really burned but instead had a very interesting taste. It was, like I said, caramelized. So if you cook it for a while longer, you will make caramelized rhubarb jam!
Because rhubarb jam is the best of them all. It’s sweet and fresh and perfect on crepes and on bread, or with yogurt. And because they don’t sell it year-round in the Netherlands, this seasonality makes this jam something special.
I know I’ll be busy starting from May making jams and other delicious things I make happen from our fruit trees and the various lovely things we find in the forest, but this fabulous jam will make me very happy until I can make jam from other things. I even managed to last throughout the year without buying jam- because we had so many (and besides, let’ s face it, jam is not something that can be eaten in large quantities)- so I hope it will be the same this year!
- 750g rhubarb stalks
- 500g sugar (or less)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 10 tablespoons water
- Peel the rhubarb and remove some of the stringy parts.
- Cut into small pieces
- Put rhubarb, water and sugar in a pan
- Bring to a boil.
- Boil until the rhubarb turns soft.
- Transfer into jars.
- Close the jars tight.
- Leave to cool.
- Some people don't peel the rhubarb but I feel the stringy parts are too hard. However, some of the peels will give the jam a lovely, pink color.
- Great on crepes and sandwiches.