Over the last couple weeks, I’ve noticed rhubarb reappearing at our local farmers markets. I have held out buying any as the two rhubarb plants in our backyard garden have been growing quickly. I marvel at how briskly rhubarb grows ever spring, from those first early leaves that poke out of the ground when it still feels a lot like winter, to being able to chop a pound or more of the celery-like stalks with their enormous leaves barely a month later.
When I looked under those big leaves yesterday, I was delighted to see that there were plenty of stalks to start cooking with…the big dilemma was which much-loved rhubarb recipe to make first! Since my peanut-butter-and-jelly-loving boys decimated my stash of homemade jellies from last summer, I thought starting with this novel jam made sense.
I first tried this recipe last summer and we all enjoyed its unique flavor and sweetness. It makes those aforementioned PB&Js extra special and turns basic toast into a welcome breakfast. A hearty spread on one of my corn bread or muffin recipes is also a treat. And the color is rather pretty!
I originally found this recipe in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Jams, Jellies and Preserves by Yvonne Tremblay. I add some clarification to the original recipe and a few tips that should be helpful if new to canning. For a few extra details on basic canning and two classic jam recipes that happen to be family favorites, you may wish to read my recipes for Strawberry and Peach Jam.
Yields about 6 half-pint jars.
- 3 cups diced rhubarb, in 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 pound)
- 2 cups (one 14-16-ounce can) crushed pineapple, including the juice (see notes)
- 1 (1 3/4-ounce) package powdered fruit pectin (I use Sure-Jell)
- 5 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons apricot brandy or peach schnapps (see notes)
- 6 half-pint jars (or jars to accommodate approximately 6 cups of jam)
- Measure the sugar into a bowl and set aside.
- Place the rings and the lids of the jars in a small pot of simmering water, and heat a large pot of water that will serve as your water canner.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, mix together the rhubarb and the pineapple, and heat over medium-high heat until the pineapple juice begins to simmer, 1-2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the rhubarb is just beginning to turn tender. (It will fully soften and break down later.)
- Stir in the pectin, and bring the mixture to a full boil over high heat, stirring regularly.
- Stir in the sugar, and return to a full, rolling boil (a boil that does not stop even when stirred), stirring constantly, for one minute.
- Remove from the heat. Stir in the apricot brandy or peach schnapps, if using. Allow the jam to sit for 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly. This will prevent floating fruit and will allow the foam to subside. If any foam remains, you may skim it off.
- Ladle the mixture into clean jars to within 1/4 inch of the rim. Wipe the rims, and put on the lids. Tighten the rings just until fingertip tight.
- Process in the hot water bath (jars should be fully submerged) for 5 minutes. Carefully, remove jars from the water, and allow to cool to room temperature. Check the seals. When the center of the lid is pressed, it should not move. If it "clicks" in and out, the lid has not sealed and should be stored in the refrigerator.
- If you would like to try the apricot brandy or peach schnapps but are not sure if you will enjoy the flavor, I recommend adding 1 tablespoon the first time you make this recipe. It will give you a hint of the flavor without being as noticeable. Look for one of the small airline-size bottles if you prefer not to buy a large bottle.
- While you may be tempted to try fresh pineapple instead of the canned, I recommend against it in this recipe. I have read several times where people have trouble with fresh pineapple setting up in jam recipes, whereas the canned variety is not problematic.