Rhubarb & Black Currant Jam

I feel like some tout in a seedy doorway, at once bored and alert, tossing out my banter with practiced skill, repetitious yet intriguing, tacky yet titillating. Except, instead of GIRLS! GIRLS! GIRLS!, the neon sign over my head blinks RHUBARB! RHUBARB! RHUBARB! “Come on and get your rhubarb heAH, just one taste my lovlies, just one taste, it’s sweet, it’s sour, it’s tangy and tingly, step right up now, step right up!

Maybe I should just throw in the towel on this Local Kitchen thing and start following rhubarb season all over the globe. I’ll start a new blog, All Rhubarb, All The Time. Only, what to choose as the most appropriate URL stumps me: www.rhubaholics.com? www.pieplantlover.com? www.icantquityou.com? Decisions, decisions.

Anyway, my rhubarb obsession (rhubaphilia?) has born fruit, if you’ll excuse the horrendous pun (and before you tell me that rhubarb is actually a vegetable, here in New York, we have long known it is a fruit. A wonderful, magical fruit.). Not only has my obsession yielded another jam, I’ve managed to clear two more items out of the freezer (the Great Freezer Clean-Out of 2011 continues!): a straggling 3/4 of a pound of black currants, bought frozen from Fishkill Farms last Fall, and quince juice, leftover from my Julia-gifted quince. Huzzah!

And how did this jam come out, you ask? Well, it has rhubarb in it, so obviously it’s good (duh). But if you are looking for something a bit more descriptive than “good” (might I suggest, delicious?), I would say tart. Tangy. Bright. Not sweet at all, verging on the savory. One husband of my acquaintance sheepishly admitted that it was “bursting with fruit flavor” (despite fully recognizing the cheese-factor of that particular description). A firm set, firmer than my usual, practically a jelly, but with enough bits in there to reassure you as to its jammy tendencies, and the most spectacular color: really, my pictures don’t do it justice. It’s quite gorgeous.

So, if there are some Memorial Day farmer’s markets in your neighborhood, why not scope them out for some rhubarb? But I feel compelled to warn you: rhubarb may be habit-forming. Jam at your own risk.

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Rhubarb & Black Currant Jam

INGREDIENTS

  • 1  lb rhubarb, washed, ends trimmed and chopped into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3/4 lb black currants (I used frozen)
  • 1 lb (2 cups) raw sugar
  • juice & zest from 1 small lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup quince or apple juice (I used frozen)

METHODS

  1. Day 1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Allow to macerate at room temperature, stirring now & then, until bedtime, then refrigerate overnight.
  2. Day 2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  3. Transfer fruit and juice to a sieve suspended over a large, wide stockpot or preserving pan. Reserve fruit. Add quince (or apple) juice and bring juice to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil until liquid becomes syrupy, is bubbling thickly and reaches the set point (220 degrees F on an instant thermometer), about 15 minutes. Skim foam if necessary, add fruit and return mixture to a boil. Bring the jam back to the set point by boiling briskly over high heat, stirring minimally, for about 5 – 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, skim foam, and ladle hot jam into clean, hot jars to 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yields about 3 and 1/2 cups.

OPTIONS

  1. The set of this jam is pretty firm: I like it, as I make so many that have a loose, preservy set (and it’s nice to have options), but if you want a looser set, try using only 1/2 a cup of quince juice. Apples have slightly lower amounts of pectin than quince, so a full cup of apple juice should give a looser set.
  2. This jam is tart, just on the verge of savory. For a sweeter jam, you could increase the sugar by up to 2 cups.
  3. If you can’t find any black currants, blackberries would make a nice substitution.

STORE

Canned, at room temperature in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.

SEASON

Rhubarb is in season in the Spring, while black currants follow later in the Summer and quince are available in the Fall. With frozen fruit, you can make this jam all year long.

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11 comments

  1. You know I’m with you on the rhubarb love! I have two tags on my blog: “rhubarb,” and “not rhubarb.” Right now I have rhubarb and red and pink currants macerating. Mmmm.

  2. Liz B.

    I’m sad to say that I have wasted the last 42 years of my life. I had never tried rhubarb until this Spring. Pitiful.

    And now I’m out of control with it. I’m waiting for the family to do a rhubarbvention soon.

  3. I really wanted to buy a currant bush. But I was told I’d have to get permission because it’s part of a lifecycle of a pest that is destroying native trees in MA. As for rhubarb, I still remember those little questionnaires you do in grade school where you say “my favorite book, dessert, movie etc.” I put down rhubarb crisp every time. (Betty Crocker cookbook). Maybe that was weird, but I feel I can share that here.

  4. Don’t worry Sara: this is a Rhubarb Safe Space. You can share all of your rhubarb love – we won’t judge. :)

    Liz – You’re just making up for lost time. Tell your family your joining Rhubaholics Anonymous; they won’t realize that our true mission is simply to trade great rhubarb recipes.

    Jules – Ooooh, pink currants. Jealz.

  5. this looks divine – another winner I see. ahem. I have 5 pounds of cooked down rhubarb and 25 sprigs of lavender resting in the fridge. an experiment you may soon hear about. and another 6 pounds chopped and ready for anything tomorrow. is it me or is there a rhubarb renaissance happening here? (and please, please, please pronounce renaissance in the English way when you read it!) ren-aay-saance.

  6. Pingback: Day 2-Jam, Sausage & Ice Cream | our DIY life

  7. Sarah

    Can anyone tell me where to find currants in ANY form lol My husband is waiting with baited breath to try this jam and I can’t find the currants!!! Thank you!

  8. Hi Sarah,

    Depends on where you live. If you are in NY, there are several farms in the Hudson Valley or further upstate that grow them: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/22/dining/22currant.html I got mine, frozen, at Fishkill Farms, in Fishkill, NY, last summer. Currants are in season in July (so in order to make this jam you’ll need to use either frozen currants or frozen rhubarb). You can purchase frozen black currants year-round at Walnut Grove Farm, online at: http://www.currantc.com/ .

    Kaela

  9. Just made a version of this last night and it is wonderful! Tangy, tart, almost savory – I have visions of a pork loin in my future. I also did a black currant and strawberry jam following the same technique with macerating/straining the fruit. A

    nd a heads up to anyone living in NE Ohio – check out Vytko Farms in Auburn Township. They have pick your own red & black currants!!

  10. Pingback: Currants! | Barton Farms and Gardens

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