Tag Archives: rhubarb jam

A jam for jamming

Rhubarb Jam

It would be lovely, I suppose, if every stalk of rhubarb shot up clean bubble gum pink throughout, and if it stirred up into a jam the color of nail polish, and if (while we’re dreaming) it could in no way, in any quantity, poison anyone. The rhubarb I buy at the store is like this, but the stuff in our backyard—rhubarb reliably misshapen, strangely sized, and half-buried in dead leaves—is not really all that pretty.

This year, I hacked it all into pieces any which way, piled it into a roasting pan with a cup of sugar and a cinnamon stick, and roasted it for almost two hours, until the foam had subsided and a thick, gooey jam had begun to stick to the sides of the metal.

My rhubarb jam wasn’t even close to pink, and somehow, this feels like a shortcoming. But while it roasted, I put my kid down for a nap, tagged up on a deadline, made myself coffee, answered email, and made dinner. Oh, I brought the mail in, too. I was jamming, people, in more ways than one. And right now, balancing a book release and a new lupus treatment and a traveling husband and the kind of sunny Seattle weather that makes me want to lie prostrate in the back yard, I can’t think of anything more beautiful than a jam that doesn’t require actual attention.

This is one of those. There’s chopping and mashing and scooping and smashing, but you won’t need an ounce of glamour to make it. You don’t need a recipe, even-just four pounds of rhubarb, a cup of sugar, a cinnamon stick, and a bit shy of 2 hours at 400 degrees, stirring every so often. Call it jam, or compote, or stuff, even. It doesn’t matter what you call it. I pile the roasted rhubarb stuff on yogurt, and eat it after Graham goes to bed, when the house is silent, and I want the last part of the day to sweeten anything sourish that’s happened during the daylight hours.

This stuff sweetens life just enough.


Filed under Breakfast, fruit, gluten-free, Pike Place Market Recipes

Caramelized Rhubarb Jam

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Say the word jam, and I usually take a moment’s pause. Jam means fruit, and summer, and hot buttered sourdough toast. But more than anything, I usually associate jam with time, because making it – between the chopping and stirring and mothering and jarring – requires a luxury of hours that doesn’t pass by my calendar all that often.

This jam, though. It’s a caramelized rhubarb jam. It’s roasted, not simmered, and it’s really too quick to require a true recipe. Mix four pounds of chopped rhubarb with a cup of sugar, the juice of a lemon, and a split vanilla bean, and roast it at 350 degrees for two hours or so, stirring just once. The stalks will collapse as the sugar caramelizes, creating a rich panful of brick-colored jam – a good-sized jar for home and two jars for sharing – that’s as at home on a slice of toast as it is snuggled next to a smear of peanut butter.

Of course, if you eat it with a spoon, I won’t tell. I’ll just ask for another spoon.


Filed under Breakfast, recipe