I once read somewhere that if not prepared properly, rhubarb can be poisonous. So I stayed clear of rhubarb for all of eternity, never giving it the benefit of doubt it deserved – a Google search. When we were returning from mandarin picking last weekend, we stopped at a roadside shack outside a farm with the standard money box and vegetables on display. I just couldn’t resist the big bunch of fresh rhubarb with the dirt still sticking to the stalks. Then we came home and I googled my fears to rest.
My head was buzzing with a million thoughts of what I could do with the rhubarb. Crumble? Poached Sauce? Muffins? In the end I decided to do a simple Rhubarb And Vanilla Jam. It took me all of 20 minutes from start to finish and I had a jar of the best jam I have ever tasted in my life.
Rhubarb is very much like strawberry in taste with the sweet and tangy elements fighting for dominance. It is a beautiful vegetable and has the most gorgeous ruby red color you will ever find in nature. The jam had the consistency of a soft conserve and I can see it being used to make muffins and cakes besides having big, greedy, lip smacking spoonfuls straight from the jar.
RHUBARB AND VANILLA JAM
preparation time – 5 minutes
cooking time – 15 minutes
makes enough to fill 1 medium jar (about 1 and 1/2 cups)
1 bunch rhubarb, leaves trimmed, stalks cleaned and finely chopped (250g)
1 cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla paste/extract
2 tablespoons water
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine rhubarb, sugar, vanilla and water on low heat. Cook for 2-4 minutes until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat to medium and cook for approximately 10-12 minutes until thick and sticky. Make sure you stir it constantly.
I used vanilla paste because it is more concentrated than extract and has the tiny tiny black vanilla seeds that I love seeing in my baked goodies. But extract is just fine too. If you can get a vanilla pod, even better.