How to make rhubarb jam (without pectin)
This is my simple, delicious and 3 ingredient how to make rhubarb jam (without pectin) at home recipe. Are you ready to make your own rhubarb jam at home? Let’s do it!
First of all, you’ll need about an hour. Maybe a bit more if it’s your first time making jam. It doesn’t take that long but it’s a process you don’t want to and can’t rush. It’s fiddly too, better to have more time than not enough.
I’d be lying if I said the process of making jam wasn’t in depth. It is, but I wouldn’t call it difficult. I’ve talked about making jam before – Apricot Jam and I’ve talked about rhubarb before in this healthier and lesser version of a jam (not really a jam at all) – Stewed Rhubarb. This stewed rhubarb recipe is great if you want to use less sugar or you don’t have the time to make rhubarb jam right now (it’s freezable too).
Heads up, before we start
Make sure you sterilise all your equipment. Jars, lids, tongs, spatula, funnel. All of it. Read this post on how to sterilise jars in the oven.
Let’s talk about pectin
Pectin is naturally occurring in fruits in different amounts. Pectin is what helps a jam set. Pectin needs heat, sugar and acid to set.
You can add pectin. There’s a specific type of sugar ‘jam making sugar’ with added pectin. I’ve never used it. There’s a sugar free version too – Pomona’s pectin. I’ve never used it, it’s meant to be great.
To set your jam you need enough pectin added OR to cook your jam long enough to allow natural pectin in the fruit to be released. If you don’t do this your jam will be runny. Not the end of the world but if you’re after a particular spreading ability, maybe you’d like your jam toward a certain thickness? Then you probably want to add some form of pectin, whether it’s the sugar, Pomona’s or pair with a fruit below that’s higher in pectin.
Overset jam is when you’ve cooked your jam for too long or potentially added too much pectin (if you’re adding it in). Again, not the end of the world.
Setting your jam is a Goldilocks scenario. Some people like it runnier and spreadable. Others like it thicker. The rest of us are happy to find an hour to preserve the fruits of summer and enjoy them all year, with a few jars to gift to friends along the way, regardless of how it turns out.
This isn’t a full list – but let’s talk about pectin in fruits. A quick search will give you a detailed list.
- High pectin fruits – tart underripe apples, unripe blackberries, lemons, limes, plums, grapes.
- Medium pectin fruits – ripe apples, oranges, sour cherries.
- Low pectin fruits – apricots, raspberries, strawberries
Are you ready to make rhubarb jam?
There’s a video to go with this recipe, it’s the cliff notes version and if you’re new to jam making, pay attention to the bubbles. I explain the bubbles below, just look out for them.
Rhubarb Jam (without pectin)
- Chopping board
- Large bowl
- A big wide pot
- Jars and lids
- 800 g rhubarb
- 150 g raspberries I used frozen and thawed
- 400 g sugar I used 50/50 caster and rapadura
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- 1 tsp vanilla bean
- Wash your rhubarb really well to remove any dirt. Remove all leaves. Dry well.800 g rhubarb
- Chop rhubarb into 2cm chunks and place in a bowl with thawed raspberries and sugar. Mix well. Leave for 30 minutes to macerate.800 g rhubarb, 150 g raspberries, 400 g sugar
- Grab a wide pot. The wider the better as this helps the jam cook faster.
- Place rhubarb mix into pot and cook on a low heat to dissolve all sugar. Once sugar has dissolved, turn heat up to medium (if you know your pans are amazing and retain heat well, you might want to do a low/medium heat but you probably know this). Add zest and juice of 1 lemon.1 lemon
- Place a few ramekins in the freezer, this is to test our jam has set later on.
- Now we watch and wait. The jam will reach a rolling boil, this is what we want. Stir jam regularly so it doesn't burn. We're watching the bubbles change, from a loose fast thin pop, into a thicker slower pop. This is practice. This is getting to know a process and infusing the memory of cooking into your psyche. This presence is how you learn to cook. It's hard to explain in writing, you need to experience it. Once you know, you know.
- Sterilise jars in oven, including your lids, funnel and spatula. We're working with a lower sugar jam and while it does have sufficient acid in it to keep this jam shelf stable, we're going to be careful anyway.
- Test your jam. Grab a ramekin. Spoon some jam on it and push your finger through the jam. The jam should part and stay parted with a line through the middle. If the jam runs back straight away, it's not ready. Keep cooking.
- Once jam is ready, stir through vanilla bean. Then carefully pour your hot jam into your hot sterilised jars. Be careful. Your jars need to be hot, otherwise the glass will crack from the temperature change.1 tsp vanilla bean
- Wipe rims of jars really well and seal with lid. Turn jars upside down and leave on bench overnight. Hot jam in hot jars will heat seal the jar, making it shelf stable (you don't need to keep it in the fridge). If I end up with a half filled jar, I keep this in the fridge just in case.
- In the morning, you can test one of your jars to make sure it's sealed. You can do this by placing a pen on the top of the lid, if you can see a noticeable curve in the jar lid. They're heat sealed. You can also open the jar and listen for a pop.
Jam making and safetyTo effectively and safely store food at room temperature you need a preserver. In this case, we're using lemon and sugar. If you change the ratios of this recipe, there's no guarantee it will be safe to store on the shelf. The same goes for jar that don't have an appropriate heat seal. This is why we check. Always follow a recipe with correct preserving ratios AND always work with the cleanest equipment possible (sterilised).