Amongst all last weeks recipe testing was a rhubarb and rose jam, partly inspired by my favourite soap (find here) and as now is absolutely the time to make it I thought I ought to post the recipe before it was too late. I like this jam - the rose is subtle, the colour is pretty, and it's great with yoghurt. I'm also an absolute convert to making jams like this in smaller quantities.
The reasons for this are many and start with not wanting to be stuck with a lot of a flavour you might not end up totally in love with. The second point in favour is that the whole process is suddenly a lot quicker - which is a consideration in the summertime when standing over a hot pan is a penance. A quicker cooking time also means that you keep more of the fruit flavour - which in turn is an argument to make a couple of batches if you want more jam rather than just sizing up the recipe. Because it's much quicker to cook that's not as tedious as it sounds.
Starting with 500g of rhubarb will produce 2 or 3 average-sized jars of jam.
500g of rhubarb cut into 1 - 2 cm chunks
325g of jam sugar (or granulated sugar and a teaspoon of pectin powder)
A loose handful of scented, unsprayed, rose petals - how many this takes will depend on the variety, but 2 - 4 flower heads should do it) - make sure they're bug free.
Juice of a Lemon.
Put the cut rhubarb and rose petals in a pan and either layer it with the sugar or sprinkle it over. Set aside until the sugar melts, drawing out the moisture from the rhubarb as it goes. This helps it keep its shape when it's cooked and will take a good few hours and can be done the night before the jam making.
When you're ready to make the jam put a plate in the fridge for wrinkle testing and start sterilising your jars. Add the lemon juice to the pan and gently bring the whole lot to a boil. Boil vigorously for between 5 and 10 minutes, testing on the plate for the level of set after about 5. If it's still really runny boil a little longer, then take off the heat and pot it into your jars. When it's cooled down completely store it in the fridge, it should keep for about 6 months. If you want to make a lot whilst the rhubarb is at its best you can freeze it (plastic tubs probably better for this than glass jars)
This is a lowish sugar, Swedish style nearly jam so it won't ever be particularly firm - upping the sugar content to an equal amount with the rhubarb will give a firmer set, but will change the balance between the flavours. A jam with more sugar won't need to be kept in the fridge before opening, and might be better for spreading on toast and scones - but not so good for folding through whipped cream or yogurt, but it's all a matter of preference.
It's also worth noting that the amount of water in the rhubarb can vary quite a bit. Now, before the rhubabrb has dried out, got woody, bolted, or started to flower is the time to make jam with it - but the stalks I get from my mother's garden behave quite differently to the ones that I buy from supermarkets, which are not the same as the ones I sometimes get on the market. It's why I prefer the wrinkle test for this to using a thermometer.
Finally, rhubarb is also great at carrying other flavours, so if you have plenty of it and a very small amount of something else - a few strawberries, black currents, raspberries or similar they'll punch above their weight in the finished jam. I'm also thinking of trying this with Elderflower whilst there are a few heads still not gone over.