Seasonal Recipe: Rhubarb and Ginger Jam*

Once the euphoria of new season forced rhubarb has died down, I simply can't keep up with all the sticks my single Victoria rhubarb plant sends out. Perhaps I need to stop the annual manure feed in February and things might calm down a little.

This year I'm intending to make better use of my allotment surpluses. So bearing this in mind plus our dwindling jam mountain - we 'inherited' about 20 jars of varying vintages and flavours last year when NAH sold his mum's house - I made some rhubarb and ginger jam yesterday. Since leaving work, our jam consumption has risen significantly as NAH usually has some with homemade bread for lunch, so replenishing our stocks seemed a wise move.

My trusty Good Housekeeping Cookery Book - first published in 1948 and still going strong - has the recipe I use. It makes 3-4 jars as follows:


1.1 kg (2.5lb) rhubarb (prepared weight), chopped
1.1 kg (2.5lb) sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
25g (1oz) root ginger
100g (4oz) stem or crystallised ginger, chopped

  1. Place the rhubarb in a large bowl in alternate layers with the sugar and lemon juice. Cover and leave overnight, so the rhubarb juices are drawn out. You should end up with a bowlful looking like the one in the picture
  2. Transfer the mixture to a large pan (preserving or otherwise) - you may find there's a lot of sugar at the bottom of the bowl, so be sure to stir the ingredients well beforehand
  3. Peel and bruise the root ginger (crush lightly using a large knife or rolling pin), tie up in a muslin bag and suspend it in the rhubarb mixture
  4. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 15 minutes, stirring frequently
  5. Remove the muslin bag, add the stem or crystallised ginger and boil rapidly for a further 5 minutes
  6. Test for a set - either a jam thermometer reads 105 degrees centigrade (221 degrees fahrenheit) or remove some jam with a clean wooden spoon, let it cool a little and drop the jam back into the pan. If the jam runs along the back of the spoon and forms flakes which drop off the spoon sharply, set point has been reached. NB whilst testing for a set, the jam should be removed from the heat so that it doesn't become over boiled (which weakens the setting property)
  7. Once set point is reached , remove from heat and take off any surface scum with a slotted spoon
  8. Pot up into warmed jars and cover
The recipe says use within 12 months - we've just opened a jar from 2005 and it's still scrummy.

Tips, Wrinkles (literally) and Variations
  • Adding a knob of butter during the boiling process helps to clear the jam and reduce (sometimes eliminate) scum
  • The type of sugar you use is up to you - I use granulated sugar as it's the cheapest, though you may prefer to use jam sugar because it has added pectin which helps with jam set as rhubarb has a low pectin content. If you use brown sugar (which is fine) it will darken the jam's colour and gives a different flavour
  • I use the cheapest lemons I can find and 'cook' them on the microwave's highest setting for 20-30 seconds before using to maximise their juice
  • Rhubarb's very low pectin levels means this jam tends to set slightly runnier than say raspberry or blackcurrant
  • I don't have a jam thermometer and the flake test is a little hard to judge with this jam as finding the set point can be a little tricky. I find the wrinkle test is much more reliable - at the start of jam making put 2 saucers in the fridge. When the mixture is starting to thicken, remove the jam from the heat, then take one of the saucers out of the fridge and put a small teaspoonful of jam onto it. Put the saucer back into the fridge for 2 minutes. If the jam then wrinkles up when you push it with your finger, it's ready to pot up. If it's not ready, bring the jam to the boil again for a few minutes and use the other saucer for a second test - and so on until set point is reached
  • After potting up the jam, I cover the top with a circle of greaseproof (waxed) paper before it cools. This helps to keep out harmful bacteria and prolongs shelf life even when pot lids are used. You can buy the paper discs or make them yourself - guess what I do!
  • I don't bother with putting the root ginger in a muslin bag and adding stem or crystallised ginger. Instead, I chop the root ginger into extremely small pieces and add it to the mixture. The boiling time is the same as steps 4 and 5 combined
  • If I'm using the root ginger from frozen, I squeeze out (by hand) as much liquid I can from it into the mixture first - this makes chopping the soggy ginger a little easier
  • I wouldn't recommend converting this recipe to a low sugar one as rhubarb is rather tart and there's also a lot of lemon juice used!
* = I think I need to set the YAWA team onto finding out all about jam vs jelly vs Jello forthwith.


  1. VP, this brings back memories. I made rhubarb and ginger jam when my kids were small unfortunately I was the only one who would eat it, but it was very nice in cooked puddings. In the days I could eat fattening things!!

    Best wishes Sylvia

  2. This sounds fabulous, VP! We tend towards strawberry-rhubarb jam over here, but I love ginger and would probably like this better. Loved the wrinkle tip, too!

  3. I love rhubarb... and planted some in the garden last year... need to wait a few years before I can harvest....

    Thanks for the visit... BTW.. my mum lives in Melksham...

  4. VP, It sounds delicious...I've only had rhubarb pie and it's been years since then. I have to start cooking again! gail

  5. Wow, that sounds very yummy, and much more interesting than the usual (here) strawberry-rhubarb combo (though that IS tasty!).

  6. MMM!!! Sounds delicious! I am always impressed with jammers. I haven't tried to can yet. Don't want to poison us with botulism.

  7. I use the rhubarb and ginger combo in crumbles all the time, but I've never done it as jam sounds seriously scrummy and, as we're about to be overtaken by our rhubarb mountain, I'm definately going to give it a go over this weekend!

  8. My Rhubarb is doing better than usual but I never have a glut - or any spare for jam - or enough to cook from just one pick. I think I've discovered a new variety "Rhubarb parsimonious".

  9. Mm, we had stewed rhubarb today, our first of the season but alas not from my veg plot. I put off ordering too late (again) this year.

    First time I've visited your blog, it's so diverse! Looking forward to revisiting in future. found you via Botanical.

  10. My taste buds are demanding some rhubarb! I've never made rhubarb with ginger ~ it sounds delicious. I will try it this year, now that I've my own rhubarb in the front garden. Last weekend, I went to the market and bought 'rhubarb strawberry jam. I was so excited to see it that I didn't stop to look at the contents carefully. What a disappointment ~ I definitely had jelly which had absolutely no fruit taste at all. Not one piece of fruit could be found which made me think of my mum's crabapple jelly ~ she makes it by boiling up the crabapples, popping them in cheesecloth and letting them drip out their juices. Since her jelly always tastes delicious, I asked her about the obvious jelly I had just bought. We figured the sugar and certo were in much greater quantity than the supposed fruit juice. (I love my mum because she then handed me a jar of her special raspberry jam and all disappointment was immediately forgotten). Sorry for the ramble ~ there's a hockey game on and it addles my brain! Have a wonderful weekend, VP!

  11. Thanks VP and most timely. I seem to have a lot of rhubarb this year and there is a limit to the amount of crumble I can eat !

  12. Sylvia - I still do eat and enjoy fattening things!

    OFB - the strawberry-rhubarb combo's a new one on me. Must look out for it when I'm in the States next. Here strawberry on its own is very traditional

    Treesparrow - you might get a small crop this year. I thought your mum was nearby when I spotted your recent visit to Bradford on Avon

    Gail - NAH has requested some rhubarb crumble

    Monica - it's very yummy and spicy!

    wormandflowers - welcome! If the jars are hot when the jam's poured in and sealed with the greaseproof paper, the risk of botulism is minimised.

    Nutty Gnome - good luck - let me know how you get on!

    EG - that made me giggle!

    Scattered Gardener - welcome and thank you! I'll look you up via Blotanical :)

    Kate - no sign of brain addling from my viewpoint, just a lovely story! You've described exactly how Jelly is made over here too. We like the chunkiness of jam though. I might try making some crab apple jelly later in the year as part of my planned hedgerow harvest.

    Anna - go on, have a go it's easy peasy!

  13. Love the recipe for Ruhbarb and Ginger Jam, i decided earlier in the year to grow Ruhbarb and now i have lots of the stuff so im going to give this recipe a go. just need to find some jam jars to put it all in, if you know of anywhere i could get some would love to know, i have been saving some but still need a few more really as want to make some of it for xmas presents.

  14. Hi Laura,

    So glad you like the jam recipe - it's a good 'un!

    I know it's off topic for your post and blog, but you asked me a question about getting hold of some jam jars. Like you, I've hoarded mine. You could try your neighbours and ask then to save their empty jars for you. They don't have to be just jam - I'm using golden syrup, honey and even good old Mrs Pataks curry paste jars - well washed out I hasten to add!

    Failing that you could try Freecycle in your area. I believe Lakeland do a set of them for a reasonable price. Try any kitchen shop, and I believe Wiggly Wigglers do them too, though postage will make them more expensive than buying locally.

    Hope that helps and happy jam making!

  15. ha ha
    I was just googling 'flake point jam' and guess whose blog entry on the subject was number 8 on their list of choices?? xxx

  16. Tee hee - hope you found the answer you wanted. I find the wrinkle test's more reliable. The flake test's when the jam drops off your wooden spoon in solid looking 'blocks' rather than watery drips.

  17. kate sillence (on facebook)29 May 2010 at 17:02

    Having been giving some rhubarb by a good friend i googled 'rhubarb and ginger jam'. up popped your blog and so my 4 year old and i bought the other ingrediants and got on with it.
    we've just finished and, of course, tried it warm off the wooden spoon... yum!! i think toast is on the menu when it's cooled.
    thank you for a licious recipe :)

  18. Hi Kate and welcome! Glad you're enjoying the rewards from this recipe. Hubby has asked me to make some more today :)

  19. Thanks for this. I love rhubarb.

  20. Thank you for this recipe, as I have an abundance of rhubarb to use this year and I love rhubarb and ginger jam. I usually make compote with it but there is too much to use up like that this year, and I do hate to waste anything I have grown.

  21. Hi 2uesday - thanks and I hope you enjoy your jam. It's one of our favourites :)


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