Sugar High Friday, hosted by Delicious Days is celebrating the age old custom of preservation - be it canned or jammed, the only real criteria is in the use of sugar.
Since it is winter here, there aren't quite as many candidates out there to use in a jam, but there is something that just thrives in winter - Rhubarb!
The farmer's market had bunches of just picked, thick stemmed rhubarb that I couldn't' resist. To work with the Rhubarb's slightly tart flavour, I've teamed it up with Granny Smith Apples and to bring in an different point of sweetness and those lovely telltale tiny black spots, Vanilla bean.
Rhubarb, Apple & Vanilla Jam
450 grams Rhubarb, washed
450 grams Granny Smith Apples, peeled and quartered
1 cup water
800 grams white sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1 vanilla bean, sliced in half
The rough recipe for jam making is to use equal quantities of fruit and sugar. Because I don't want an overly sweet jam I've slightly decreased the quantity of sugar. This helps to retain the characteristic taste of rhubarb and as mentioned earlier, the vanilla brings it's own type of sweetness to the final product.
The stalks I had were quite large so I cut them in half and then into rough cubes.
Similarly after quartering the apples cut them roughly into the same sized pieces as the Rhubarb. For this recipe I needed 4 apples but this vary depending on the apple size.
Use a heavy based saucepan and place over a medium heat - add the apple and rhubarb, the juice of one lemon and the water. Simmer for a few minutes to allow the fruit to begin to soften at release it's own juice. Add in the sugar, stirring until it dissolves before finally adding the sliced vanilla bean.
Cook this slowly, allowing it to gently simmer but not boil. Stir to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and wash down the sides of your saucepan with a pastry brush dipped in water.
The rhubarb will be the first to dissolve giving the mix a stringy type of texture with the apples taking longer. In fact you could probably still have some chunks of apple left by the time it's cooked - that just adds to the character of the jam.
There are quite a few ways to tell when the jam is ready, the easiest way is to use a sugar thermometer and when it reaches 104°C/220°F the jam should have set.
Another method is to drop a little onto a cold plate, then quickly chill it. If it forms a skin and wrinkles when pushed, the jam is done. Make sure you've taken the jam off the heat while you are testing it.
A final method involves using a wooden spoon - stir the jam and remove the spoon. If, when you draw your finger through the jam at the back of the spoon and it stays separate, then the jam has reached setting point.
This jam took around 45 minutes to reach the setting stage.
I poured it when still hot into a warm and dry preserving jar (these are Italian Vacuum Seal Jars) - I left the vanilla bean inside just for decoration sakes.
I tapped it on a bench a few times to settle the mix and release any trapped air bubbles before sealing it. With these jars you'll hear the seal pop as it cools indicating that a vacuum has formed.
The final result is a deliciously thick jam, with that pinky rhubarb colouring and a slight tartness mixing with the floral notes of vanilla. Just perfect on scones!
As a footnote here's a list of some of my favourite books on preserving
The Complete Book of Home-Made Preserves by Jill Nice
Perfect Preserves by Nora Carey
Sensational Preserves by Hilaire Walden
Clearly Delicious by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz
The Mediterranean Pantry by Aglaia Kremezi
Tagged with Sugar High Friday : SHF