We have just returned from a wonderful week on Orkney. It’s an amazing place to visit – there is so much to see and do.
Wherever we go, Mr McGregor likes to check out what people are growing in their gardens.He was particularly impressed with the amount of rhubarb which grows on Orkney. It presumably enjoys the climate since it was growing everywhere, including this patch by the side of a loch.
Luckily, when we returned home our rhubarb patch had taken advantage of the recent rain and had expanded massively. So much so that there was enough to make rhubarb and vanilla jam.
I love making jam with crops from our own garden. There is something very satisfying about making stuff that will last us through the winter. Of course, jam contains a lot of sugar – most recipes suggest a 1:1 ratio of fruit to sugar. I cut this down for my jams and they taste just as good. Cutting down the sugar content may mean it doesn’t set so well, but I can never get jam to set anyway, even with the recommended amount of sugar. It still works perfectly well on toast!
There was enough left over to make rhubarb cake – I’ll share that recipe next week.
Rhubarb and vanilla jam (pdf here Rhubarb and vanilla jam)
1kg rhubarb (after trimming), cut into 3cm pieces
700g jam sugar (you can use ordinary sugar but jam sugar might help with the set
2 vanilla pods, halved lengthways
juice of 1 lemon
Makes approx 4 x 450g jars
- Put rhubarb, sugar and vanilla pods into a preserving pan. Heat gently, stirring continuously until the sugar melts (the rhubarb will produce lots of juice so you don’t need to add water).
- Once the sugar is melted add the lemon juice and turn the heat up. Boil rapidly until jam reaches it’s setting point**. This is usually about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and skim off any scum as you go.
- While you are doing this, put clean jam jars in an oven at ~100 degrees to sterilise.
- Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then remove the vanilla pods and bottle in the warm jars. Place wax circles on top and then put the lids on tightly.
**To test for a set – put a saucer in the fridge before you start and put a dollop of jam onto it. Allow to cool for a minute. If it wrinkles when you push it with a finger it has reached setting point. Jam should be removed from heat while you check for a set. If you have a suitable preserving thermometer you could use this instead – setting point is about 104.5 degrees.
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