Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam

Just to let you know, this post was written before I started the paleo diet to help ease my psoriasis. Nowadays I eat a more allergy-friendly diet, but leave these older, non-paleo posts up in case they are useful to readers, as I know not everyone eats the same as I do. Thanks for your understanding. 

I love rhubarb. But one thing I always think of when I see it is vanilla. I think it comes from growing up on the stodge of rhubarb crumble and custard after our roast dinner almost every Sunday lunchtime. I've heard it's very easy to grow, but living in a second-floor flat with no space to try, I was lucky that a rhubarb-growing friend of ours handed us a bunch. So I decided to make some jam and experiment with the addition of vanilla. It was lovely.

I remember popping into what was then our local veggie shop a few years ago and saying to the assistant there that I wanted to make some rhubarb jam. "Ooh, that will be nice," she said, "but I bet it'd be a bit of a bugger to set." I remembered her words, and chose proper 'jam sugar' with added pectin, just to help it along. I mean, I didn't want to waste all that home-grown rhubarb, did I?

If you try the jam, you might find it quite sweet. This is how my husband likes it, while I like a bit of tartness to it - there's no point hiding what the fruit actually is. So add a little less sugar if you're like me and you enjoy rhubarb's tartness.

Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam
Makes about 350ml

  • 300g rhubarb, washed, trimmed and chopped into chunks
  • 275g jam sugar
  • half a vanilla pod

  1. Tip the rhubarb and the jam sugar into a sturdy, medium-sized saucepan and pour in a splash (about an espresso cup's worth) of cold water. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has melted. Don't boil at this stage.
  2. Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod half and add them to the pan, along with the pod half they came in.
  3. Bring to a rapid boil and drop in a sugar thermometer if you have one. If you don't, stick a saucer in the freezer.
  4. Boil for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick and caramelise on the bottom. Your thermometer will tell you when to take the jam off the heat (at just over 120 degrees) or after 15 minutes drop a little bit on the frozen saucer. Leave for a couple of seconds and then push it with the spoon. If it wrinkles, it's set. Take it off the heat. 

5. Fill sterilised, warmed jars with the mixture and seal. Great on toast, croissants or stirred into rice pudding.

What are your favourite rhubarb recipes?