Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Rhubarb, Vanilla, Balsamic Jam

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Rhubarb, vanilla, balsamic jam - with crackers and blue cheese crumbles, my favorite
Rhubarb, vanilla, balsamic jam - with crackers and blue cheese crumbles
my favorite

A long name for a really tasty jam.  This sweet and umami combination makes me smile.  It works with yogurt, cake, shortbread, ice cream.  If you are more in the mood for a sauce for your pork or chicken, this can handle the job.  I think my favorite though is paired with most any kind of blue cheese with a token crispy cracker just so you don't have to eat it with your fingers.  Mmmmmm.

Closer view - click on the photo to see the rhubarb strands
Closer view - click on the photo to see the rhubarb strands

This jam does require a bit of patience in cooking it down enough so that it will set properly.  The only thing that takes away from it, if this even counts, is that it loses it's pretty reddish color once you add the balsamic vinegar.  This will turn it to a brown jam that will make you confuse it with your maple apple butter, so be sure to label it before you store it.  I don't know this first hand, of course, I am just guessing ...

Rhubarb, Vanilla, Balsamic Jam
An unusually but really great combination of flavors that make a rhubarb jam that is very versatile.
  • 2 lbs rhubarb, trimmed, washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half and seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

  1. Prepare your half pint jars, lids, rings and canner. If you are new to water bath canning, or it has been a while, be sure to brush up from a reliable and official source to guide you through this process. The National Center for Home Food Preservation and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving are good places to start.
  2. In a non-reactive pot combine your rhubarb, sugar, vanilla beans seeds and water over a medium flame. Bring up to a boil and then carefully cook, stirring often, until the jam thickens. This will take anywhere from 45 - 75 minutes.
  3. On a small very cold plate (I chill mine in the freezer for a few minutes) add a teaspoon of the jam. Let it sit for a couple of minutes until the jam is chilled through. Run your finger through the bit of jam to see if it holds the shape of your streak and crinkles a little on top. If you need to, just keep simmering and stirring until you have the consistency you want. Keep in mind this will be a bit of a softer jam.
  4. Once the jam passes the cold plate test, stir in the 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar. Mix thoroughly and bring the jam back up to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes then remove from the heat.
  5. Carefully fill your hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Be sure to remove any bubbles using a thin spatula, chopstick, or skewer and adjust the headspace one last time.
  6. Clean the rim of the jar very thoroughly, apply your hot lid, and then the ring. You want to tighten your ring just until it is "finger tip tight", not too tight, but not loose either.
  7. Process your jars (half pint or pint) in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (10 minutes is measured after the water returns to a full boil). Adjust your processing time as necessary depending on your elevation. Again, consult a reputable source for instructions on how to do this.
  8. Remove your jars from the water bath to a cloth covered counter. Let them cool completely for 12-24 hours before testing the seals. Remove the outer ring and pick up the jar carefully by the lid to make sure the seal is a good one. If you do have a jar that did not seal, just put it in the refrigerator and eat the rhubarb jam.
  9. Store your jars in a cool dark place. This jam is ready to eat immediately, no wait time necessary.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 1/2 pint jars, 3 pint jars

Last, but not least, if you are brand new to water bath canning be sure to follow best practices outlined by reliable sites such as the National Center for Home Food Preservation or the University of Missouri Extension. Home canning is something anyone can do!