Rhubarb Lavender Jam
This is it, folks. This is the last recipe in the official Rhubarb Fest here on SFTF. Won’t you miss that glaring shade of pink font? There may be a few stragglers to come, but both my kitchen and my garden have moved on from the ephemeral spring beauty of rhubarb to the boisterous abundance of early summer. Now that my harvest basket is brimming daily with sugar snap peas, kohlrabi, beets, lettuces, radishes, broccoli and more, it’s tough to stay focused on one exclusive ingredient. Can you blame me?
But celebrating rhubarb has been fun, hasn’t it? I discovered several new and delicious recipes, all of which astonishingly excluded strawberries, rhubarb’s bestest buddy ever! Of course I saved the best for last. This batch of Rhubarb Lavender Jam combines so many of my favorite flavors: sassy rhubarb, floral lavender, and wildflower honey, all of which came out of my garden in one way or another. I also love that this jam does not require any pectin. It’s not that I mind pectin in my jam. I just mind the inevitable realization that I used up the last of my stash and never remembered to replace it (pectin’s tough to find in bulk here in the city so I buy mine at the little local store by my parents’ farm when I’m visiting).
If you’re not a master jam maker – and I certainly don’t consider myself to be one like Tigress in a Jam, the creator of this recipe – this is an easy beginners batch. The ingredients take minimal processing and you can’t really mess it up as you can keep cooking it if you aren’t sure that its ready to set up. Rhubarb takes a licking and keeps on ticking like that. And this jam does indeed set up beautifully.
If you’re not a big fan of lavender but you like the sound of rhubarb jam, I’m certain you could make this without the herbal addition. Or, better yet, try an herb you do like, maybe rosemary, mint, or even chamomile. And, yes, strawberries could make an appearance too if you don’t want plain ol’ boring rhubarb. Oh dear, have I given you the impression that I don’t like strawberries? Oh, but I do! In fact, I have two large patches of alpine strawberry plants – one in my garden and one in large containers on my deck – that I just can’t wait to start picking from, likely beginning next week as the first berries are just taking on color. But I really do like showcasing rhubarb as a luscious “fruit” not to be upstaged by that perky juicy red berry.
Oh, would you like to know my goal for next year? To make this same recipe using only ingredients I’ve grown myself. My lemon tree, which is currently sitting in a large clay pot in my garden and growing like mad, should be bearing plenty of lemons next spring. And instead of sugar, I’m going to try using ground stevia, a sweet herb I currently grow to sweeten my homemade herbal tea blends. I’m growing enough of it this year that I should have cups of it dried and ground for storing over the winter. Fun, huh?
Rhubarb Lavender Jam
Adapted from Tigress in a Jam
6 C. rhubarb, finely chopped
2 ½ C. granulated sugar
5-8 fresh lavender sprigs
7 oz. wildflower honey
Wash the rhubarb thoroughly and cut any thick stalks in half lengthwise. Finely chop rhubarb and measure out six cups into a large ceramic bowl. Add sugar, juice of one lemon, and the florets only of the lavender. Stir gently to make sure all the rhubarb is coated and the sugar is not sitting at the bottom of the bowl. Cover with a plate or foil and set in the fridge to macerate overnight.
The next morning, place one or two small plates in the freezer for later use. Gather five small jam jars and sterilize either in the dishwasher or by place a small amount of water in the bottom of each one an microwaving them for 3 minutes on high. Empty out any remaining water and set aside. Meanwhile, place the lids in a shallow pan, covered with water, and simmer on the stove until ready to use.
Place the rhubarb mixture in a fine mesh strainer and collect juice in a non-reactive (stainless steel) pan. Add honey and bring the liquid to a boil. Skim any foam that collects on top and continue boiling until it is very hot and steaming, about 4-5 minutes.
Add the rhubarb mixture to the liquid in the pan and return it to a boil, carefully skimming any foam that gathers on top. Add juice of the other lemon and continue cooking at a boil for 5-6 minutes, stirring and skimming as needed.
Take jam off heat and use a potato masher to break up any remaining solid pieces of rhubarb. Check the set of the jam by taking a plate from the freezer and dropping a small spoonful of jam on it and let it sit for a moment. Pass a finger through the middle of the jam. If it is set, there will be a clear line left behind. If the jam runs back together, return the pot to the heat and boil for another minute or two and try the “set test” again with a fresh plate from the freezer. Repeat as needed to get the jam to set.
Remove the simmering lids from the stove and drain off the water. Put a sterilized jar in a small bowl (to catch any drips and to protect your hands from the heat) and ladle hot jam into it. Wipe the rim and threaded mouth clean before screwing on the lid. Turn upside down to cool and repeat until all jam is in jars.
After an hour or two, turn jars up right and let cool completely. Check to see if lids sealed by pressing on them. If they give or pop, they are not sealed and must be stored in the fridge. If they have sealed, store in a cupboard. This makes a small batch so I did not bother to process them in a hot water bath. If you wish to make larger batches or store for a long length of time, follow these instructions.
(makes 4-5 half pint jars)