I haven't opened Mes Confitures since my winter obsession with it, and it was fun to dive back in, especially since there are so many rhubarb combinations. This recipe hooked me because of its execution. Over the summer a friend gave me a jar of incredible rhubarb ginger jam from Ethel's Kitchen in Martha's Vineyard. It was incredible; big chunks of rhubarb held their shape in a soft sea of stewed rhubarb. Whenever I have made rhubarb jam, it breaks down completely, and I've found that this technique is the way around that.
Now, if you are familiar with Christine Ferber's Mes Confitures you will know that it's often cryptic. And a lot of the recipes are incredibly sweet. This recipe is no different. What's cryptic is that there is no pectin in it: zero. Rhubarb doesn't have any natural pectin, there's no added pectin, and no apples or other high pectin fruit. I knew going in that I wouldn't get a jell at all, but in the future I think I will add pectin (for those who are interested, I would add Pomona's: 2 t of each calcium water and pectin). I'm not sure if this is a morning on your toast kind of confiture. It's really more of a confection than a spread. I would drizzle this on top of ice cream or a dessert. It's really a syrup with fruit suspended in it.
I used this incredibly thin, delicate, red rhubarb that I received from the generous Meghan Murphy, a journalist, who also runs the Hudson Valley Food Network (If you are local, this is a great site to join if you want to keep abreast of the farm to table scene. It's also a great resource if you are visiting the area!) I had posted on the site that I was looking for rhubarb, and she kindly found me some. The small diced chunks are a perfect texture; the maceration shrivels them and I find them, may I say it? Toothsome.
Rhubarb Jam adapted from Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber
2 3/4 pounds rhubarb (the recipe asks for 2 1/4 pounds net, but this is the amount I used)
3 cups sugar (recipe calls for 3 3/4 cups)
2 T lemon juice (recipe calls for 2 T)
Make a small dice with the rhubarb. Macerate with sugar and lemon over night in a ceramic bowl covered with parchment paper.
Strain the syrupy juice and bring it to a boil in a heavy pan. Bring it to 221 degrees on a candy thermometer. Add diced rhubarb. Return to a boil, mixing gently. Skim. (I didn't skim, and it did leave me with some foamy bubbles in the jam.) Continue cooking on high for five minutes, stirring. Put jam in hot jars and seal. Process for ten minutes, turn off the heat and let sit for five more minutes.
Note: Ferber does not water process so this processing time was my guess. I think it's fine, due to the high acid content in rhubarb, plus the lemon, but do be advised this is not a tested recipe for water bath canning.
So, now I have a few more pounds of rhubarb left, and the strawberries just started ripening. I'm blown away by how many I am getting. I picked a quart this morning, and that's with my son eating quite a bit. I'm sure there's going to be a good strawberry rhubarb jam recipe I can use from the Can Jam this month!