Old Fashioned Rhubarb Jam Recipe
Rhubarb jam is a great way to preserve rhubarb from the garden to enjoy later. Rhubarb jam tastes great on toast, on pancakes, in cookies, in oatmeal, and more.
How to Make the Best Rhubarb Jam
Rhubarb is not high in natural pectin, so it will take more sugar to thicken the jam. You can add pectin to reduce the amount of sugar in the jam. Rhubarb tastes best when harvested in early summer. You can still use rhubarb harvested in late summer, however, the taste will be subpar as it goes to seed. Slow down on harvesting rhubarb and leave more stalks intact in late summer, so that the plant can recover and prepare for winter. Stop harvesting when the first frost of the fall occurs.
Easy Rhubarb Jam Ingredients
- Rhubarb: Rhubarb is the star of this show. There are many health benefits to consuming rhubarb including promoting gut health, combating allergies, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory benefits. You can read more about the health benefits of rhubarb in this article.
- Sugar: Sugar is needed for preservation and thickening. If you want to omit the sugar and use strictly honey, then you’ll need to add pectin for the jam to thicken. (I try to avoid sugar because of the chemicals used in processing sugar, and usually substitute it with local honey.)
- Honey: Honey has many medicinal benefits, and can help boost the immune system. Honey in this recipe can be omitted and replaced with sugar.
- Lemon: Lemon has lots of natural pectin, and adding lemon eliminates the need to add commercial pectin. Pectin can be found in the lemon juice, lemon peel, and lemon plith.
- Pectin (optional): Some people prefer the consistency of jams with pectin, and can be added to this recipe if desired. Jam made with commercial pectin has texture similar to store-bought jams.
Equipment Needed to Make Homemade Rhubarb Jam
- 10 Half-pint Mason Jars and lids (or 20 Jelly jars) (Amazon affiliate link)
- Water bath canner (Amazon affiliate link)
- Canning tongs, funnel, and de-bubbler (Amazon affiliate link)
- 4 Quart Pot (Amazon affiliate link)
- Candy thermometer (optional) (Amazon affiliate link)
Rhubarb Jam Recipe Without Pectin
Use the different portion sizes to make (located next to the ingredients list):
- 0.5x for 10 jelly jars (4 ounce)
- 1x for 10 half-pint jars (8 ounce), or 20 jelly jars (4 ounce)
- 2x for 10 pint jars (16 ounce), or 20 half-pint jars (8 ounce), or 40 jelly jars (4 ounce)
- 3x for 10 wide mouth pint and a half jars (24 ounce), or 30 half-pint jars (8 ounce), or 60 jelly jars (4 ounce)
- 4x for 10 quart jars (32 ounce), 13 wide mouth pint and a half jars (24 ounce), or 20 pint jars (16 ounce), or 40 half-pint jars (8 ounce)
Rhubarb Jam Recipe
- 8 cups Diced Rhubarb (about 8 large stalks)
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1 cup Honey
- 1½ cups Water
- 1 Lemon
- Clean and sterilize the jars, lids, and rings for canning. Use a sink full of extremely hot water, or you can run them through the dishwasher.
- Dilute honey in hot water, and stir in sugar. Add petitely diced rhubarb to the mixture. Cut lemons in half and add them to the pot. Stir and let the rhubarb jam mixture sit for 1 hour. (This is an excellent time to prep the jars and water bath canner.)8 cups Diced Rhubarb, 1 cup Sugar, 1 cup Honey, 1½ cups Water, 1 Lemon
- Measure the amount of water needed in the water bath canner by filling the jars with water, and placing them in the water bath canner on the rack. Fill the water bath canner until the jars are completely submerged in water, giving an extra inch of water for evaporation. Pull the full jars of water out, and start heating the canner with the lid on.
- After the rhubarb jam mixture has rested, turn on the heat to the medium-high setting. Boil the jam for 15 minutes, continuously stirring, and skim any foam off of the top of the jam.
- Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pot.
- Cook to 220 degrees, or test the thickness with the spatula. The jam will start off runny, easily pouring off the spatula. When the jam sets, it will thicken and slowly run down the spatula, forming large droplets before falling from the spatula.
- Remove the lemon halves.1 Lemon
- Place the funnel on the jar, and ladle the rhubarb jam into jars, leaving 1/4" to 1/2" of headspace. Use a canning de-bubbler or knife to remove any air bubbles. Clean the brim and place the lids on, and place the rings on fingertip tight (pretend you are tightening a lid for a 3 year old to open).
- Process the rhubarb jam for 5 minutes in 1/2 pint and pint jars, 10 minutes for quart jars in a boiling water bath canner. (Use the rack, and be sure that the boiling water covers the jars.)
- Remove the jars with canning tongs, and place them on a towel on the counter to let them cool.
- Leave them to seal until tomorrow. Don't touch them, just let them do their thing. (You'll hear the seals popping almost immediately, but leave them alone until they cool.)
- The next day, you can remove the rings. Check the seals by lifting the jar by just the lid. If the seal holds, it is good for storage. Store at room temperature for up to 18 months without the rings, and do not set anything on top of the lid (this can affect the seal).
Rhubarb Jam Combinations and Substitutes
- Strawberry rhubarb jam: substitute 8 cups of rhubarb with 4 cups of rhubarb and 4 cups of strawberries.
- Apple rhubarb jam: substitute 8 cups of rhubarb with 6 cups of rhubarb and 2.25 cups of diced apples (about 6 apples). Apples are high in natural pectin, so adding apples will create a thicker jam.
- There is no need to peel the fresh rhubarb before making homemade rhubarb jam. However, if your rhubarb is a late harvest (August or later), peeling the rhubarb may make it taste better.
- Rhubarb is ready for harvest, as soon as the stalks emerge. Be sure to leave at least 1/3 of the stalks behind for plant health. If it is the first year of transplant, hold off until next year to harvest. This will allow the plant to focus its energy on growing roots instead of replenishing stalks.
- Most rhubarb plants will produce 2 to 6 pounds (6 to 24 cups) for a harvest per year. Rhubarb is a cold hearty perennial plant that will produce a crop every year. New stalks will emerge for weeks, especially after harvesting. Freezing is the quickest way for preserving rhubarb, while accumulating enough to prepare a batch of rhubarb for recipes. (Or for overall easy rhubarb storage.)
- Plant rhubarb in full sun to partial shade. Avoid planting rhubarb next to sunflowers, thistles, cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins, and melons. Otherwise, rhubarb is a great companion plant.