Can Jam- May edition: Rhubarb!

Welcome back to the Can Jam!  We have canned citrus, carrots, alliumsherbs.   This month’s star ingredient(s) were chosen by Toronto Tasting Notes.   We ended up with choices!   We are talking 2 spring classics: Rhubarb or Asparagus!  I’ve been on a rhubarb bender lately.   Why stop now?


The Ladyfriend wanted pickled asparagus.  A desire I will most certainly fulfill.   Tomorrow.   But today?  Today was for more rhubarb.

Ultimately I didn’t want something too sweet.  I was after a savory rhubarb sort of thing, but ultimately couldn’t find exactly what I wanted. I pondered pickling rhubarb to put on salads but wasn’t sure how to do it without rendering it mushy in the process (ha!).

I adapted a recipe from Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber (known to some as the Mistress of All Things Jam).

Rhubarb with Acacia Blackberry Honey & Rosemary

  • 2-3/4 pounds organic rhubarb (or 2-1/4 pounds net)
  • 2-3/4 cups granulated organic sugar
  • 7 ounces acacia blackberry honey (I didn’t know what acacia honey was but I thought blackberry would be a nice complement to the rhubarb)
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 10 sprigs of rosemary (I used approx.  2 to 3 inch sprigs)

Rinse the rhubarb under cold water.  Cut the stalks in two, lengthwise, and then in a small dice.  let the rhubarb, the sugar, and the juice of 1 lemon macerate overnight in a ceramic bowl covered with a piece of parchment paper.

Next day, pour this preparation into a sieve.  Pour the collected juice (and honey) into a preserving pan and bring to a boil.  Skim and continue cooking on high heat.   The syrup will be sufficiently concentrated at 221°F on a candy thermometer.  Add the diced rhubarb.  Bring to a boil and mix gently.  Skim carefully.  Add the juice of the second lemon and the rosemary sprigs.  Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, continuing to stir. Check the set.  Put the jam into jars and seal. (I left 1/4″ headspace and processed for 10 minutes)

Made 8 half-pints.

rhubarb adding sugar

getting a little 'help' with the sugar

rhubarb and sugar

Rhubarb starting the maceration process

rhubarb jam

cooking it up

rosemary and lemon juice

rosemary and lemon juice

rhubarb jam with honey & rosemary

love the color!


Lessons(?) from the Jam

Or, may I please vent?  Oh good!    (**If you worship Ferber feel free to skip this bit.**)

  • I do not like vague canning instructions.
  • It irritates me when a recipe calls for something (honey, in this case) and then never tells you what the eff to do with it.  I do not like having to guess nor do I like having to google the recipe to see how other people might have done it and hope for the best.
  • And, any guesses about how much a “sprig” is?  I certainly don’t know.   I am fine adding such things to taste. But a starting point range would be awesome!
  • I also don’t like it when, in the case of canning, headspace and process time aren’t specified. Sure, sure, sure…I could look it up, but why wouldn’t you just specify?   A well written recipe should contain the pertinent information.  Note!  I didn’t say a good recipe….hell, I would write terrible recipes as I improvise and mostly fly by the seat of my pants while cooking.  But I also am not writing a cookbook.  I expect a cookbook to have well written recipes.
  • A rough idea of how much to expect the recipe to make is nice too.  Ballpark…I don’t need exact- just get me close.

End rant.  Thank you for indulging.


Ranting aside…it is yummy!  It is a difficult flavor to describe.  It is somewhat intense.   Certainly sweet, but not too sweet.  I think the rosemary saves the day by softening the sweetness a bit by adding a subtle “herbiness” to the end product.   I think it is more an “on toast with black tea” jam rather than an “on toast with coffee” jam.  Know what I mean?

rhubarb jam with honey & rosemary

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15 Responses to Can Jam- May edition: Rhubarb!

  1. Tengrain says:


    I read that recipe, too, and decided against it for the exact same reasons. That said, my contribution to the Herb jam segment is very similar, but I actually break it down with how much lavender to use, and what to do with the honey, which reminds me of what my college dorm’s Resident Advisor once said to me: “Butter and jam it, Honey.”

    Not that I’m trying to get you to make the Rhubarb and Lavender jam. Not at all.



    PS – Just returned from Seattle, I just love that place. You are so lucky.

  2. Hi Tengrain- What were you doing in Seattle? I pondered lavender also….but have a bunch of rosemary so went for it.
    Next time your are in Seattle– a cocktail?

  3. Julia says:

    Hoo-boy, your rant is so funny! I love Ferber, but the cryptic-ness is maddening, for sure. And I love your jam. It looks rhubarbific! Glad you’re still on the ‘barb. So am I.

  4. Julia- I think the rhubarb and rhubarb-strawberry liqueur are nearly done “soaking” and ready for the next step. Looks like they’ll be gorgeous!

  5. Kate says:

    I know exactly what you mean, coffee/tea situations are precise. Unlike Ferber, it seems. I don’t have her book, but that would drive me batty. Thanks for the rant; it’s keeping my Amazon Prime addiction in check for the time being. Really? No yield? That’s just mean.

  6. ap269 says:

    Wow, the blackberry honey sounds awesome. Is that a common honey in North America (I assume that’s where you live)? I’ve never heard of it! Acacia honey, on the other hand, is a very common honey in Germany or maybe even Europe-wide. I’m not sure there are acacia trees in North America…

    • Funny- I had to google an acacia tree! It sounds like the honey is quite a treat! The blackberry honey is pretty tasty. It was a bit more subtle than I anticipated, but yummy!

  7. Gloria says:

    This jam sounds absolutely fabulous to me and definitely one to try.
    I seem to be spending much of my time recently defending Mes Confiture but in this instance I’m going to pass! When I look through some of my very old cookery books the recipes are very vague (sorry just couldn’t help myself!). The reader has become much more mollycoddled and their expectations have become much more exacting. I’ve had a fair amount of experience of the processes involved in producing books and could write a whole book on the trials and tribulations. With my preserving book ‘Fruits of The Earth’ a whole chapter was scrapped because the editorial director (1 person and male) had never heard of fruit butters and cheeses! In the UK unless you are on TV, a book doesn’t go ahead without a US deal and the adaptation for the US market is really important. (I had to fight! to have gooseberries, a traditional UK jam making ingredient, included in my book as they were banned in the US for many years and even the fact that they are championed by Martha Stewart doesn’t cut the mustard with these die hard publishing types who have set rules in their heads.)
    Suffice to say, this approach becomes very irritating after a while. The best techniques to learn are those that set you free to go off and do your own thing. I can understand that it will be annoying if the size of a ‘sprig’ is not quantified and you simply want to follow the recipe to the letter and get a reliable and perfect result. But look at it this way…. to have to think about how much flavour that herb contains, how much of a presence you would like it to have and how it works with other ingredients can be much more useful and illuminating in the long run. How small could a sprig be and how large? What bearing would that difference have on this recipe? A sort of ‘zen and the art of jam making’ approach!
    Anyhow, that’s the way I see it. However, Christine Ferber, from now on you’re on your own.

    • ap269 says:

      You had to fight for gooseberries? Wow! They are an essential and much beloved jam making ingredient in my house, too! I second your opinion on all the other points you made (but I guess, you concluded that from my e-mail, didn’t you?).

  8. Gloria- Ha! Too true! It is odd- as with general cooking I generally don’t use recipes or only use them as guidelines. I am very free & easy with it all. Canning I could use a little more info–things like when to add honey or how much it makes feel useful to me. I’m not going to let her slide on those. =) The sprig…I will let that go. Certainly, it is to taste. But not knowing even how rhubarb & rosemary might taste together and how prominent the rosemary might be a “ballpark” might be helpful. Are we talking a 2″ sprig or a 6″ sprig. If I know that…I then feel confident in messing about to my own personal taste (ie, in the case of the Cavalier Ginger Rhubarb– I know I love ginger so would use liberally).
    No butters & cheese? Bizarre! And needing to fight to keep gooseberries? Ridiculous! At any rate, I have loved all your recipes so far and I am excited to know you have a cookbook! Thanks!

  9. Travel Mommy says:

    That is strange about the gooseberries – Dad loves “Gooseberry Pie” and Gooseberry Jam” (he grew up in Colorado) – I think his mom use to use them a lot.

  10. JamGoddess says:

    I lack Gloria’s restraint and will defend Ferber in this one instance. I would agree that Mes Confitures is not for beginners. Also, it suffers badly from the translation it received. I truly look at it as more a book to provide ideas and methods. However, the jams, by and large, are so delicious, I can live with the ambiguity. And it’s fun to try and figure it out (says the geek).

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