Rhubarb Prosecco Jelly

Even before I brought home 25 lbs of rhubarb from Tai’s Grandma’s massive Maine rhubarb patch, I had begun the season’s rhubarbapalooza with about 8 lbs of gorgeous, fat and deeply magenta stalks courtesy of Madura Farm. Since the pale pinky-green stalks are far more common in New England, I pounced on these beauties, and knew that I would save them for preserves where color counts: rhubeena and jelly.

Last year, when I was leafing through my new copy of Sherri Brooks Vinton’s Put ‘em Up!, I spied a recipe called “sparkling rhubarb jelly.” And thought: “Sparkling wine & rhubarb?! Sign me the <expletive> up!” Alas, the recipe in question was for a simple rhubarb jelly, sans sparkling alcoholic goodness. But the idea stayed in my head, apparently, because when I lugged home those fat magenta beauties from the farmer’s market, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: rhubarb prosecco jelly.

Prosecco tends to be a bit sweeter than champagne or cava, so it is a perfect foil for the tart rhubarb. The Meyer lemon pectin was an inspired addition here, if I do say so myself: the bitterness of the citrus pectin allowed me to add enough sugar for the standard 1:1 ratio of sugar:fruit juice without the resulting jelly being tooth-achingly sweet, and the floral Meyer lemon added just a hint of savory flavor, giving this jelly a rich and complex profile. The set is just barely there: I suspect I could shake a jar hard and have a thick, rather gloppy syrup, perfect for a meat glaze or vinaigrette, yet it spreads nicely on a piece of toast. Just the way I like it! While I don’t normally use refined white sugar, I like the choice here, both to preserve the beautiful pink color of the jelly and to prevent any caramel/molasses flavor from interfering with this fresh, tart, sparkling jelly. While rhubarb season has only just begun, this one is going to be tough to top.

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Rhubarb Prosecco Jelly

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 and 3/4 lbs rhubarb, washed & trimmed, sliced to 1/2-inch pieces (to yield 3 cups juice)
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 cup prosecco or other sparkling wine
  • 1 and 1/2 lbs (3 cups) sugar (refined white beet sugar)
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • pinch salt (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Meyer lemon pectin (or other citrus pectin or apple pectin)

METHODS

  1. Add rhubarb and water to a large stockpot. Bring to a simmer over high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer until rhubarb is mostly broken down, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a clean jelly bag (or a cheesecloth-lined colander) suspended over a bowl and allow juice to drain, undisturbed, for at least 2 hours. Resist pressing on the jelly bag, lest your jelly be cloudy. Reserve pulp for leather, popsicles or granola.
  2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  3. Measure out 3 cups of rhubarb juice: combine with prosecco, sugar, lemon juice and salt in a wide, heavy-bottomed preserving pot or Dutch oven. Use your largest pot: between the rhubarb and the prosecco, this foams up a lot. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves. Add pectin, raise the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the gel point: 220 degrees F on an accurate thermometer or a small dollop of jelly creates wrinkles after 1 minute on a frozen plate, about 20 minutes. I relied on the frozen plate gel test here and the final jelly temperature was 223 degrees F. Cook for 1 minute at the gel point.
  4. Remove from heat. Skim foam. Ladle hot jelly into hot jars to 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yields 3 and 1/2 cups.

OPTIONS

  1. You should be able to replace homemade citrus or apple pectin with commercial pectin: follow the directions for 4 cups of juice, and use the recommended amount of sugar unless you are using low-sugar or flex-batch pectin.
  2. Since the citrus pectin is quite bitter, this jelly is not overly sweet; in fact it rides right on the edge of savory with the tart rhubarb, lemon juice and floral Meyer lemon peel. The prosecco I used was rather sweet, so if you choose a drier wine, you could probably take up the sugar by 1/2 a cup without adding too much sweetness.
  3. If you want to see some bubbles in the final jelly, as in the Bubbly Meyer Marm, you should stir in 2 – 3 tablespoons of prosecco just before canning, after you’ve taken the jelly off the heat. Just make sure that you are clearly at the gel point: my set was right on the edge and additional prosecco might have tipped it in the syrup direction.

STORE

Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.

SEASON

Spring.

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35 comments

  1. You’re killing me. I really need to make friends with someone who has a lot of rhubarb so I don’t have to pay a small fortune everytime I see “rhubarb” here. Being a bit compulsive, apparently I feel the need to try every recipe you mention.

  2. A disadvantage of following blogs from climates north is that our rhubarb is already gone for the year. I’ll have to remember this one for next spring.

  3. I’m in love with unusual jelly’s and this one looks like a treat. I’m planning a jam and jelly making week soon and putting this one on my list. :)

  4. Karen @ My Pantry Shelf

    What a beautiful color your jelly is! I just returned from my parents with a lug of rhubarb. I do believe this weekend calls for jelly!

    • Hi Cathy,

      If you are concerned about the alcohol in the wine, you should know that it will boil off during the cooking time of the jelly, rendering the final product essentially non-alcoholic. If you simply don’t like the taste of wine, you can easily omit the prosecco and make a straight-up rhubarb jelly; it will have a firmer set unless you also reduce the sugar a bit: I’d try 2 and 1/2 cups. You could also try substituting sparkling non-alcoholic cider for the prosecco.

      Hope that helps,
      Kaela

      • Cathy

        That’s what I was wondering-about the sparkling apple cider, I happen to have some of that on hand! Thanks!

    • Hi Avalee,

      I honestly don’t use commerical pectin that often; I believe that jelly is usually made with liquid pectin, although I imagine either variety would work. A quick peek at the Ball site yielded this recipe: http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipe.aspx?r=193 which looks quite close; just substitute rhubarb juice for the raspberry. You should stick with the 4 cups of sugar specified by the recipe, though, if you go with commercial pectin, otherwise your sugar:pectin ratio will be off and it will affect the set.

  5. Caroline

    i’m really excited for this recipe- i literally had that exact thought process about the sparkling rhubarb jelly recipe in put em up, but i never motivated past that to make the jelly i thought it was going to be. and i have a freezer full of citrus pectin too! now… i just need to find more rhubarb….

  6. This is great! I just finished the last of our rhubarb jam from last year, and the rhubarb is going great guns here in Quebec City. If you still have a bonanza of rhubarb, you might enjoy this twist on a French classic dessert recipe (clafoutis – claw-foo-tee), that I devised last spring. It’s pretty tasty, and really simple. Here’s the link, on my blog (http://fruitrootleaf.com): http://fruitrootleaf.blogspot.com/2011/05/rhubarb-clafoutis.html.

    Bon appetit!
    Bethann

  7. This looks amazing! I love rhubarb, and I love bubbly, so the thought of the two of them married together in a jelly? Amazing! Lucky for me my friend’s boss has a field of rhubarb at her country house, and my friend keeps bringing back more than she can deal with and passing the excess along to me. Now I know where the next batch will be going!

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  11. I just was lucky enough to pick up 2 pounds of late season rhubarb. But I normally use Pomona’s Natural Pectin. I am bad and forget to make my own pectin sadly. And I try to avoid the pectin put out by Ball is I can. But making Meyer lemon pectin is on the chore list for next season. Have you ever looked at trying Pomona’s pectin? I love their JamLine. I may have to try this using their pectin if I can pick up some bubbly tomorrow now.

    • I haven’t tried Pomona’s, but mostly because I find it pretty easy to keep homemade on hand. I know some folks love it; one of these days, I’ll get around to trying it. Don’t see why it wouldn’t work here: I think jellies are a bit easier to judge, pectin-wise, than jams or preserves.

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