Full recipes from edition 6

The Jammy Bodger Gets Tangy

By Mel Sellings

Illustration by Helen Young

 

Illustration by Helen Young

 Love it or hate it, call it fruit or veg, everyone has an opinion about it. I’m talking rhubarb, sometimes called ‘pie plant’. When I first started making Rhubarb Jam, I practically had to force people to try it as childhood memories of stringy, soggy puddings had put them off for life – or so they thought. The jam has none of the stringy-ness but all of the tart fruity flavour which makes it lip-smackingly good. These days, my rhubarb jam flies off the shelves, even giving strawberry a run for its money. It’s a quiet rhubarb revolution.

As I’ve got my greedy mitts on some bright pink early rhubarb stems, I’ve decided to make a jam, one which keeps all of the fruit’s (I know rhubarb is a vegetable but it just doesn’t sound right) tangy vibrancy. The following recipe uses only half the usual amount of sugar and I’ve pre-stewed the rhubarb to keep it firm. I want the jam to set as quickly as possible so I will be adding pectin, as rhubarb is low in the stuff. (Just a quick aside for any who are unaware, rhubarb leaves are poisonous so please do not eat, rhubarb stems are gorgeous so please do eat!)

 

Rhubarb Fridge Jam or `Kiss me Quick’ Jam

The Salt Pig have everything you need in season – click this sentence to visit their website. You’ll find them on the high street in the lovely town of Wareham – click this one to visit theirs.

Kiss Me Quick!

 

Tart and sweet, I defy any sloe lovers not to like this.

 

600g / 1 lb5oz             rhubarb (spray free if possible)

300g / 10oz                 jam sugar or granulated sugar

1 sachet pectin           or ⅓ bottle liquid pectin

1 lemon                       juice only

 

Makes 2.5 small jars, approx. 500g.

Eat within 4 weeks of making.

 

Method

Stage 1

  1. 1. Rinse the rhubarb and drain well
  2. 2. Cut into 1.5cm long tubes for thin stems, 1cm for thick, place in a large bowl
  3. 3. Pour over the sugar, stir well to combine and cover
  4. 4. Leave to stew at room temperature, not in direct sunlight, for a couple of hours

 

Rhubarb stewing with sugar

Stage 2

  1. 1. Sterilise jars and lids now as the jam will set quickly (see Further Info).
  2. 2. Empty the rhubarb, sugar and juices into the jam pan. The rhubarb will look    smaller and a bit shrivelled, but don’t worry.
  3. 3. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar has dissolved.
  4. 4. Add the lemon juice and if you are using a pectin sachet add it now.
  5. 5. Increase the heat and stop stirring, the jam should start to set (if using liquid   pectin, boil the rhubarb for 2 mins, take off the heat and add).
  6. 6. Once the entire surface of the jam has been boiling for 2 or 3 mins, start testing   for set.
  7. 7. When you are happy with the set, remove the jam pan from the heat and stir   gently to disperse the foam.
  8. 8. Leave to settle for 10 mins then skim off any scum – there won’t be much but it   will cling to the rhubarb if not removed.
  9. 9. Ladle into jars or start eating straight away.

‘As I’m special make me in small quantities and keep me in the fridge.’

 

But what else is there for the humble rhubarb? What about actually using it as a vegetable accompaniment to a main meal, like a thick and sassy sauce to go with fish.  This keeps for 6 months in a cool dark cupboard, but after opening keeps for 4 weeks in the fridge, so make this in small jars.

Tart and tangy with a good chilli kick this would be great with smoked mackerel or any well flavoured meat or use it to jazz up any meal instead of adding salsa.

 

Rude Rhubarb Jam

Rude Rhubarb Jam

900g / 2 lb                  rhubarb, rinsed and                                               trimmed

1kg / 2lb3oz               jam sugar or granulated

2 pectin sachets       or 3/4 bottle liquid                                                 pectin

root ginger                a small knob, peeled                                              and finely sliced

2 dried chillies          finely sliced

400ml / 14 fl oz        cider vinegar

1 orange                     remove zest and half the juice

1tsp                             salt and pepper

Makes 8 small jars 240g each.

 

Method

  1. 1. Place the vinegar, root ginger, chilli and salt and pepper in the jam pan and bring slowly to the boil, remove, cover and leave to infuse for 10 – 15 mins
  2. 2. Meanwhile prep your rhubarb and orange
  3. 3. Add the rhubarb, orange zest and juice to the vinegar, heat until boiling, reduce the heat to simmer for a couple of minutes until the rhubarb is soft
  4. 4. Stir in the sugar until it has completely dissolved (add the pectin sachets if using)
  5. 5. Increase the heat to set the jam (See Further Info) this should only take a 4 or 5 mins due to the added pectin; if using liquid pectin, boil the jam for 2 mins, remove and add the pectin, wat till set
  6. 6. When satisfied the jam is set, take the jam pan off the heat and stir gently in one direction to disperse any foam, leave standing for 10 mins as the pieces settle
  7. 7. Skim any scum, stir to evenly disperse any remaining whole rhubarb pieces
  8. 8. Ladle into warm sterilised jars and if possible leave for 2 days for the flavour to develop

 

Further Information

Wash, rinse and drain your jars and lids then place your jars on an oven tray in a cold oven and heat at 110°C/ 225°F/ Mk ¼ for 30 mins, then leave the jars in the oven to keep warm.

Sterilise your tongs, lids, ladle and funnel for 20 seconds in a saucepan of boiling water, then place on the cake rack to dry. Make sure your lids are face down.

Place 3 saucers in the fridge for testing for set.

 

Testing For Set

When you think the jam has reached Setting Point:

Test 1. Hold a tbsp of jam out of the rising heat, wait for 20 seconds, turn the spoon on its side. If the jam drips off in a jellified lump or two then it’s starting to set – move on to Test 2. If it drips like water, return the jam pan to the heat and test again in a couple of minutes.

Test 2. Take the jam pan off the heat and place a tbsp of jam on the saucer. After 1 minute run your finger through the jam – if it wrinkles and stays separate, it’s set. If not, boil for another couple of minutes before testing again.

For more seasonal recipes and amusing anecdotes take a look at my seasonal recipe book Jam Making Month by Month; The Jammy Bodger’s Guide to Making Jam. With easy to follow recipes and hints and tips to help you along the way you won’t be struggling to set your jam or be left with a chewy marmalade or runny chutney. Check out www.jammybodger.me.uk

 

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