The recipe calls for a lot of rhubarb. Usually rhubarb is paired with another fruit because it barely has any pectin. This one was using orange which has a lot. But it doesn't put nearly enough in if you really want it to set up as jam. It also doesn't have the sugar to become a jam. Typically you have about the same amount of sugar by weight as you have fruit in no pectin jams, give or take a little. This called for one pound of sugar and 2 1/2 pounds of rhubarb, plus however much the orange weighed. Jam seems a lot like an art in the kitchen, but the reality is that it is a science. It is true that the less pectin you have, the less sugar you need. But you do need enough of both to make those bonds (plus acid, but rhubarb is quite acidic so no issues there).
So the recipe isn't really rhubarb jam. It is rhubarb butter. You can also tell that it won't be jam by how long they say to boil it down. Jams don't usually take 45 minutes, even jams without added pectin which usually require longer boiling times. So I got out my huge stock pot as it has a good thick base to make for even heating and put it on my quick boil burner and boiled it down fast. 2 1/2 pounds of rhubarb became four half pints of rhubarb butter. And it was to die for. It is very sour with just enough sweetness to be tasty. Like a lot of very sour things, it will do well on a buttered piece of toast as eaten plain it is way too intense. It would also be good as a topping for ice cream or cheesecake.
I had more rhubarb and made a couple of jars of stewed rhubarb. Interestingly enough it has about the same proportions of fruit to sugar. So it was also a bit intense. I can't eat that plain. I expect to eat it with something like like pudding.
Both got preserved in a boiling water bath. I always find the recommended USDA times for processing very strange. Rhubarb jam is 5 minutes. Stewed rhubarb is 15 minutes. Stewed rhubarb is not a very thick product and I would think it would need a shorter processing time than something thick like rhubarb jam. Is it because of the higher sugar content n the jam? Sugar is a preservative if you get the concentration high enough, which it is for jam. But I would think the processing times are based on how hot the interior of the jar gets - you know, to sterilize the jar. I did both for 15 minutes to be safe.
- 4 cups gooseberries topped and tailed
- 2 cups sugar (makes it sweet, use less if you like it more sour)
- 1/4 c flour
- 1/2 t salt
- T lemon juice
- pie crust (enough for the bottom and top)
Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the lemon juice to the fruit. Then mix it all together and pour into the pie crust. Add crust to the top in whatever arrangement you like.