Yesterday was a long day in my kitchen, but not one of those blissful, satisfying days where nightfall leaves you with a beautiful layer cake, or a cleaned-out pantry, or 30 sealed jars of something preserved. It was one of those days that happens, one where you’re really just getting caught-up, doing the un-sexy things that simply need to get done (hello, stock-making!), and scattered in there are a couple of botched experiments. By nightfall, after washing the 100th dish, it’s hard not to loathe the very sight of your kitchen.
Everybody has those days, right?
One of my failed experiments wasn’t a total bust — just a disappointment and therefore a lesson learned (optimism! it can be mustered!). I picked up a pound of rhubarb at the Broad Ripple Farmer’s Market last weekend, with hopes of making my first jam of the season — one that skips the sugar. You’d think that the whole no-sugar thing would be the challenge — but the recipe actually came together quite nicely.
It was the aesthetic realm in which I missed the boat. My rhubarb was mostly green, with just a couple inches of bright red at the very bottom of the stalk. I became concerned when I chopped it all up and noticed I had a pot-full of green. And then, when I cooked it, while the flavor was sweet-tart and punchy, the essence of coming summer, the color was a chilly autumn day.
I realized very quickly why rhubarb is often paired with strawberries: it’s not only for their sweetness, it’s for their color. When I think rhubarb, I expect pink. When I look at this jar of jam, my tastebuds expect something different, something maybe pear.
But, as is usually the case, we’ll eat it. And enjoy it. And make a note to try and buy the mostly-red rhubarb next time (or add a least a small amount of bright-red berries to punch up the color — this recipe utilizes this trick!).
Recipe: Ginger-Rhubarb Jam (small batch, refined-sweetener-free)
: makes about 3/4 pint
Rhubarb is low in pectin, so while this jam with thicken up with cooking & cooling, it won’t set up like a commercial jam. Feel free to add a little pectin to attain a thicker texture.
- 1 pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces (a heavy four cups, chopped)
- pinch salt
- 2 tsp grated or minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup mild honey (can sub sugar)
- pinch ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Place the rhubarb in a medium non-reactive saucepan and add the salt. Over medium heat, cook, stirring occasionally, until juices begin to release (about 5 minutes).
- Add the ginger, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb is very soft and falling apart (10-15 minutes).
- Add the honey and cinnamon, and cook uncovered, mashing up big chunks with a fork. Cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or until thickened to desired consistency (it will thicken a bit once cooled).
- Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. Let cool completely before transferring to a clean jar and storing covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks (freeze for up to a year).
Copyright © Katy Carter, 2012.