Simple Small Batch Rhubarb Ginger Jam marries two of my favorite ingredients, rhubarb and ginger. The jam is slightly sweet, but not cloying. Fresh ginger gives the jam complexity and a touch of spiciness. A single golden delicious apple (or similarly sweet variety) tones down the tartness of the rhubarb. With those few ingredients and sugar, the jam comes together easily.
Even if you’ve never made jam before, you can definitely do this one. Simple enough to be your first try, it’s still impressive enough for a spring brunch or a picnic.
This recipe is the result of an impulse buy. Running into the grocery for another item, I saw rhubarb and couldn’t resist. Then, of course, I had to find a use for it. I wanted something not-too sweet, so I stayed away from tarts, cakes, and pies. But I didn’t want to use the rhubarb in a savory dish.
In a quandary about how to use my treasured rhubarb, I turned to a favorite online resource, Eat Your Books. Also known as EYB, Eat Your Books is an amazing resource for those of us with bookshelves lined with cookbooks.
I have too many cookbooks. There, I said it. I buy cookbooks the way some people buy clothes or music. In the pre-Covid days, I browsed bookstores with good cookbook sections and cookbook stores like the fabulous NY store, Kitchen Arts and Letters, with delight every chance I got. I thumb through my treasured finds with eagerness when looking for a recipe and with fondness when I want comfort from a world gone mad.
I’ve explained how EYB works before, and use it often to find inspiration. Sometimes just the title of a recipe retrieved from a too-long-ignored cookbook is enough. But this time, it was the recipe itself that helped me along.
The book I “found” through EYB is 101 Classic Cookbooks: 501 Classic Recipes. The cookbooks it draws from go from Fannie Farmer and Rufus Estes in the late 19th Century to Alice Waters, Rick Bayless, Mark Bittman, and Thomas Keller at the end of the 20th Century. In between, are many cookbooks authors I am familiar with and several I need to learn more about. If I was going to cook my way through one of my cookbooks, this would probably be the one. For a longer explanation of the book, see this Russ Parsons 2012 article in the LA Times.
The recipe for this Small Batch Rhubarb Ginger Jam is an adaptation of one in 101 Classic Cookbooks, the rhubarb ginger jam from Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book. My recipe follows the basic steps of Cunningham’s one with a slightly revised list of ingredients and new directions.
I love recipes that you can make in stages. This one is even better – you have to make it in stages. Leaving the cut fruit sitting in sugar for over a day is in the directions and I’m fine with that. After cutting up the fruit, sprinkling it with sugar and leaving it to “marinate,” you end up with juice.
Plus it uses ginger. I love the rhubarb ginger combination. Truth be told, I like ginger in almost anything. And adding ginger to jam gives that sweet condiment a lovely, spicy aroma and taste.
I’ve learned that you can store fresh ginger in the freezer. But not all recipes do well with frozen ginger. This one did. I simply defrosted a chunk, rinsed it and chopped. I didn’t even have to peel the rough skin off because it goes into a cheesecloth bag to steep like a teabag.
Then you combine the juice from the rhubarb, apple, and sugar with a bag of chopped ginger and keep it at a rolling boil for a few minutes.
After that, you add back in the fruit and simmer the mixture for another 20 minutes or so, until it gets a jam-like consistency.
After cooling down the jam, you put it in jars and refrigerate it.
I do know how to water bath can (see my Derecho Strawberry Jam). But like my Small Batch Pear Ginger Jam and my Quick Strawberry Jam with Kiwi and Mango, this recipe only makes a few jars. Not enough to go go the trouble of canning, but plenty of jam for a lovely horde to keep you happy for weeks. Of course, you can always keep one for yourself and give one away. Remember Mother’s Day!
Simple Small Batch Rhubarb Ginger Jam
Slightly sweet, a bit spicy and altogether wonderful. This small batch jam is made in stages - you do the chopping one day, with the cooking a day or two later.
- 1 bunch rhubarb, cut into 1-2" pieces About 3 cups/1.2 pounds/510 g
- 1 med-large golden delicious (or similar) apple, peeled and cut into tiny pieces Apple should be about 7 oz/200g
- 3 cups granulated sugar 21 oz/594 g
- 3 heaping tablespoons fresh ginger, about 3", washed but not peeled, roughly chopped into pieces about 1/2" About 1/4 cup/1 & 1/8 oz/35 g
Mix the rhubarb and apple pieces. Layer in the wide dish with the sugar, cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave in a cool, dark place for about 18-24 hours. The dish should have sides about 2" high.
After the fruit has "marinated" and the sugar has turned to liquid, remove the plastic wrap. Using a colander, drain the liquid into a medium-sized pot. Press the fruit with the back of a spoon or a spatula to extract as much juice as possible and set the colander with the fruit aside. Be sure to put a plate or the wide dish under the colander as liquid will continue to seep out of the fruit as it sits.
Wrap the chopped ginger in cheesecloth and tie it, making a "teabag" for the ginger, so that it can steep in the liquid, and later the liquid and fruit. Add the ginger teabag to the liquid and bring the liquid to a rolling boil. Continue boiling the liquid for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to fully immerse the ginger teabag and to move it around.
After 5 minutes, add the pieces of fruit to the pot, bring the mixture back up to a simmer, and continue simmering the mixture for about 20 minutes, stirring at least several times to break up the rhubarb.
Once the mixture has thickened, take it off the heat and let it cool. After it comes to room temperature (about 20 minutes, stirring every once in a while), remove the ginger teabag, scraping off as much of the jam as possible. Then spoon the jam into small jars. Close and refrigerate them. According to the original recipe, they should keep, refrigerated, for several weeks.
The rhubarb will, at least partially, disintegrate, as you stir the mixture while it simmers. However, the apple pieces will remain close to the same size as they are when you put them in the mixture. So cut the apple pieces tiny unless you want bigger pieces in your jam. I didn't cut my apple pieces tiny enough and ended up cutting up a few of the larger pieces after the jam cooked. I don't advise that as it is rather messy - better to cut them tiny to begin with.
These proportions yield jam that is only a touch sweet. If you prefer your jam sweeter, add more sugar.