Forced Rhubarb & Vanilla Bean Jam

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This vibrant forced rhubarb & vanilla bean jam is a great way to make use of seasonal fruit. It’s easy to make & jam packed full of flavour!

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forced rhubarb vanilla bean jam jar

This jam is a fantastic way to make use of seasonal, forced rhubarb!

We’re making this jam using the macerating method & adding a generous amount of vanilla & a splash of grenadine syrup (for colour). This is absolutely jam packed full of flavour, is super easy to make & can be used for a wide range of dishes & recipes. You can spread it on buttered toast, spoon it into rice pudding, spread it on cakes or use it to fill doughnuts, to name a few examples.

A seasonal, sweet & delicious homemade jam! What’s not to like?

What Is Forced Rhubarb?

A variety of rhubarb originating from West Yorkshire in the UK, forced rhubarb is grown in a warm & dark environment which gives it a sweeter flavour & a more vibrant colour. This method of growing rhubarb allows it to be harvested when it would otherwise be dormant, typically between December & March.

forced rhubarb

What You’ll Need

  • Forced Rhubarb – Usually available to buy between December & March, forced rhubarb is sweeter & more vibrant than regular rhubarb.
  • Vanilla – Rhubarb & vanilla work fantastically together! For the best flavour, I’d recommend using half a good quality vanilla pod. Alternatively, you can use a tsp of vanilla paste & stir it in at the end (with the butter).
  • Jam Sugar – Rhubarb doesn’t have much pectin in so we’re using jam sugar. Caster sugar can also be used but the jam won’t set as much.
  • Lemon – A tbsp of lemon juice helps activate the pectin & adds flavour. You can either use fresh or bottled juice.
  • Grenadine – Grenadine is a deep red, fruit syrup that is commonly used in cocktails & is available in most supermarkets. We’re using it in our jam to add colour but it can be made without.
  • Butter – Adding a small amount of unsalted butter after cooking, removes any foam from the jam.
  • Salt – A pinch of salt enhances our jam’s flavour. I like to use a fine sea salt.
forced rhubarb vanilla bean jam

How To Make Forced Rhubarb & Vanilla Bean Jam

The full, printable recipe card for this rhubarb jam can be found at the bottom of this post!

  • Macerate Fruit – First, we chop our rhubarb into small pieces then add it into a bowl along with the jam sugar, lemon juice, grenadine (if using) & half a vanilla pod (add both the pod & scraped out seeds). We then leave this in the fridge for 2-3 hours, to macerate & release the juice from the fruit.
  • Dissolve Sugar – Next, we add the contents of the bowl into a medium saucepan & set it over a low heat. We then cook this, stirring regularly until the sugar has completely dissolved & the rhubarb is soft. This will roughly take 5-10 minutes.
  • Boil – Once the sugar has dissolved, we turn the heat up to medium-high, bring the jam to the boil then cook until it reaches setting point (105°c/221°f), making sure to stir the jam occasionally, to stop it from catching.
  • Test If Set – The best way to check if your jam is set, is by taking it’s temperature with a digital food probe as it cooks. Once it reaches 105°c/221°f, it’s ready.
    If you haven’t got a food probe, you can use the wrinkle test. To do this, spoon a small amount of jam onto a cold, frozen plate then let it set for a minute. Drag a finger through the jam & if it wrinkles, it’s ready!
  • Storage – When your jam is cooked, let it cool for a minute or two then transfer it into a sterilised jar. Kept in the fridge, this jam will keep for several months.
macerating rhubarb
macerated rhubarb

Serving Suggestions

Our homemade rhubarb jam is super versatile & can used for a wide range of things! I like to spread it on toast for breakfast, add a dollop to a homemade rice pudding, use it in a classic Victoria sponge or in some rhubarb & custard filled doughnuts.

Homemade Jam Tips & Tricks

  • Use a digital food probe – Using a digital food probe (like a Thermapen) to take your jam’s temperature as it cooks, is the best way to prevent overcooking. The setting point of jam is 105°c/221°f.
  • Sterilise your jar – Storing your homemade jam in a clean, sterilised jar is the best way to ensure that it keeps for as long as possible.
  • Macerate your fruit – Leaving your fruit to macerate in sugar for a couple of hours before cooking, releases it’s juice & enhances the flavour.
  • Dissolve the sugar properly – Before boiling your jam, it needs to be cooked over a low heat, to dissolve the sugar & soften the fruit. This prevents crystallisation in the finished jam.
  • Take jam off heat to check – If you’re using the wrinkle test to check if your jam is set, make sure to take it off the heat as you check it, to avoid overcooking it.
  • Stir in butter & salt – Stirring in a small amount of butter & a pinch of salt to our cooked jam enhances the flavour & gets rid of any foam, giving the jam a nicer finish.
rhubarb jam

Sterilising Jam Jars

Jars need to be sterilised to get rid of any bacteria before being filled with jam. This is an important step for preserves like jam as it keeps them fresh for longer.

I like using kilner jars for jam as they seal well & are easy to clean. The best way to sterilise these jars is by boiling them in a saucepan of water. I’d recommend using the sterilising instructions that can be found on the Kilner Jar Website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a different fruit?

Different fruits will require different amounts of sugar. The quantities of ingredients in this recipe is best suited for forced rhubarb.

Do I need to use jam sugar for rhubarb?

Rhubarb doesn’t contain any pectin which is why we use jam sugar. Caster sugar can be used instead but the jam won’t set as firm & will be quite loose.

How long will rhubarb jam keep for?

Stored in a sterilised jar, in the fridge, this rhubarb jam will keep for several months.

Can regular rhubarb be used instead of forced rhubarb?

Regular rhubarb can be used instead of forced but the jam won’t be as sweet or as pink.

How do I tell when jam is ready?

The best way to check that your jam is cooked enough, is by taking it’s temperature with a digital food probe. The setting point of jam is 105°c/221°f. Alternatively, you can use the “wrinkle test” which is where you spoon a small amount of jam onto a cold, frozen plate then leave it to set for 1 minutes. If the jam wrinkles when you drag a finger through it, it’s ready!

Cooking Homemade Jam On An Aga

With all of my recipes, I include cooking instructions for conventional ovens, fan ovens, regular hobs & also Agas. Here’s how to cook this recipe on an Aga…

Cook the jam on the simmering plate to dissolve the sugar then move over to the boiling plate to boil.

Equipment Used

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Forced Rhubarb & Vanilla Bean Jam

This vibrant forced rhubarb & vanilla bean jam is a great way to make use of seasonal fruit. It's easy to make & jam packed full of flavour!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Macerating Time2 hours
Course: Baking, Breakfast
Cuisine: English
Servings: 500 Grams
Author: Ben Racey

Equipment

  • Medium Saucepan
  • Juicer
  • Digital Food Probe
  • Jar

Ingredients

  • 400 g Forced Rhubarb
  • ½ Vanilla Pod
  • 340 g Jam Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 tbsp Grenadine Optional
  • 15 g Unsalted Butter
  • A Pinch Of Sea Salt

Instructions

Macerating

  • Give the rhubarb a quick wash under cold water then lightly trim the tops & bottoms with a sharp knife.
  • Next, cut the rhubarb into 1½-2 cm pieces & place into a mixing bowl along with the vanilla*, jam sugar, lemon juice & grenadine (if using). Mix to combine then cover the bowl with clingfilm & leave to macerate for 2-3 hours in the fridge.
    *Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod & add both the pod & seeds to the rhubarb.
  • Transfer the rhubarb (including the juice) into a medium saucepan, set over a low heat then cook, stirring regularly until the sugar has dissolved & the rhubarb is soft. This will take 5-10 minutes.
  • Turn the heat up to medium-high, bring the rhubarb to the boil then cook, stirring occasionally until the jam reaches 105°c/221°f.
  • Take the pan off the heat then stir in the butter & a pinch of sea salt. Leave to cool slightly then transfer the jam to a sterilised jar.

Notes

1. Cooking On An Aga – Cook the jam on the simmering plate to dissolve the sugar then move over to the boiling plate to boil.
2. Wrinkle Test – If you haven’t got a digital food probe, you can use the wrinkle test to check if your jam is cooked.
To do this, place a small plate/saucer into the freezer before making your jam. Then to check, spoon a small amount of jam onto the cold plate, leave it for 1 minute then drag a finger through it. If it wrinkles, it’s ready. If it doesn’t, keep cooking for a few more minutes.
Using this method, I find that it’s best to check the jam after 4-5 minutes of boiling. Make sure to take the jam off the heat whilst you check it, so that it doesn’t overcook. 
3. Storage – Kept in the fridge, in a sterilised jar, this jam will keep for several months. To sterilise jars, I like to follow the instructions over on the Kilner Jar Website
4. Grenadine – Grenadine is a deep red, fruit syrup that is available in most supermarkets. We’re using it in our jam to add colour but it can be made without.

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