Rhubarb is easy to grow at home and is highly nutritious. It can be harvested from mid spring to late summer.
For this reason it was one of the foods promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture for home propagation during both of the world wars. Rhubarb roots have been used by the Chinese for thousands of years as a laxative. Rhubarb contains Lutein, this is essential for healthy skin and eyes, Vitamins A and K. It is a powerful antioxidant - (like all brightly coloured fruit and vegetables) meaning it helps to protect our hearts and prevent cancer. Rhubarb is ideal for making preserves, canning and freezing but can also be dried (AGAs are ideal) and stored in jars - to be thrown into pies, porridge, jams etc. at will. The flavour is also ideal for homemade spirits, cordials and its texture makes lovely chutney.
Why not try a new recipe this year and use your rhubarb for more than just crumble?
Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam
- 1kg rhubarb weighed after trimming, cut into 3cm chunks
- 1kg jam sugar (or 1kg caster sugar plus 1 x 8g sachet pectin - we used Tate & Lyle)
- 2 vanilla pods, halved lengthways
- Juice of 1 lemon
Put a small plate in the freezer. Place the rhubarb into a preserving pan or your largest saucepan with the sugar and halved vanilla pods. Heat gently, stirring until all the sugar has dissolved. Then squeeze in the lemon juice and increase the heat.
Boil for about 10 minutes, skimming off the scum as you go (the fruit should be soft). Test for setting point by spooning a little onto your chilled plate. After 1-2 minutes, push your finger through the jam. If the surface wrinkles it is ready, if not, keep cooking for 2 minute intervals, testing in between. Or if you have a sugar thermometer it should reach 105⁰C.
Once the jam is ready, let it cool for about 15 minutes before ladling into warm sterilised jars and sealing. Will keep for 6 months in a cool, dark place.