Easy Rhubarb Jam

This pretty pink rhubarb jam is a total winner. Rhubarb is among the first produce available in spring, making it a great choice for kicking off canning season. It’s quite tart, so I add more sugar than I normally would during preserving. I choose long, thin stalks and I don’t peel the rhubarb, as I don’t mind whole pieces intact in the jam. The jam is delicious alongside roast pork, replacing the more typical applesauce.–Amy Pennington

LC Canning Catchall Note

Curious to learn how to can jam? Then this, dear reader, is the rhubarb jam recipe for you. Pink never seemed so pretty. Or so easy peasy. These fetching rhubarb preserves rely on just four ingredients and an occasional stir. No prior canning experience required. The jam itself is lovely and essentially foolproof, and the carefully worded instructions are an added boon. Novices, you may wish to take a peek just below the recipe for author Amy Pennington’s Canning 101, which consists of even more of the author’s articulate, easy peasy techniques, tactics, and tricks. More experienced canners, you won’t want to miss this jam. Besides, you never know what you may learn in Amy’s canning recap.

Easy Rhubarb Jam Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 1 H
  • Makes about 5 pints

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds rhubarb, trimmed, rinsed, and cut into small chunks
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 lemon, halved and juiced, seeds reserved in a cheesecloth pouch or tea ball

Directions

  • 1. Sterilize the jars for canning by boiling them and their lids. Place a small plate in the freezer.
  • 2. Place the fruit, sugar, water, and lemon juice, spent halves, and seeds (they provide the necessary pectin) in a large bowl and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • 3. Pour the contents of the bowl into a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to cook, stirring the jam constantly, for about 15 minutes. Skim the foam from the surface as the jam cooks.
  • 4. Drop the heat to medium. Hold the jam at a constant simmer, checking frequently to make sure the jam isn’t scorched at the bottom of the pot. After 15 minutes, check to see if your jam has set by placing a small spoonful of jam on the plate from the freezer. The rhubarb jam is set when it holds its shape on the cool plate. If it seems loose, continue cooking over medium-low heat until set.
  • 5. Remove the seed bag and lemon halves and compost them. Place the rhubarb jam in sterilized jars, filling them to the bottom-most ring. Gently tap the bottom of each jar on the counter to release any air bubbles. Using a damp clean towel, wipe the rims of the jars and secure the lids and rings. Process in a water bath for 5 minutes if using pint jars, 10 minutes if using quart jars. Remove the containers with tongs and let cool on the counter. When the jam is cool, remove the metal rings, check for proper seals, and label with the date and contents. Store the rhubarb jam in a cool, dark cupboard until ready to use for up to 1 year.

Canning 101

  • Preparing Jars
  • Be sure to set up your jars and workspace before making the jam so you can establish a rhythm. Wash your jars and lids in hot soapy water and set them to dry completely on a rack or on a clean dish towel. Sterilize jars by placing them in a canning pot, filling it with water, and bringing it to a simmer. Hold jars in water or in a 225° F (107°C) oven until ready to use. (This latter oven trick is not recommended by the USDA, but I’m still alive to give you the option.)
  • Filling Jars
  • All canned goods need headspace to allow for expansion of the food and to create a vacuum in cooling jars. As a general rule, leave 1/4 inch of headspace on all jams and jellies. When placing lids and rings on canning jars, do not overtighten the rings. Secure just until rings have tension and feel snug. Overtightening will not allow for air to vent from the jars—a crucial step in canning.
  • Processing Jars
  • Fill a canning pot or a deep stockpot half full of water and bring to a low boil. Hold the liquid at a very low boil until ready to use. If using a canning pot, place prepared jars of food on the rack in the canner. If using a deep stockpot, best only for small-batch preserving, line the bottom of the pot with a dish towel and place jars on top. This helps them from clanging around on the bottom of the pot or tumbling over onto their sides. This form of canning is not universally recommended or endorsed by the USDA, although I have seen plenty of farmers and European country folk use this old-school technique, and I’ve adapted their laissez-faire ways. Do not stack the jars, as you need to allow for the circulation of water for proper sealing. Lower jars into the pot and add enough hot water to cover the jar tops by an inch or more. Cover the pot and return to a boil. Processing times begin once the canning pot water is brought back to the boil. This can take as long as 15 minutes, so be sure to keep an eye on your pot and a timer nearby.
  • Removing Jars
  • Using a jar lifter or a set of kitchen tongs, remove jars from the canner when the processing time has elapsed. Set them aside on a folded towel to cool. Make sure you do not press on the tops and create an artificial seal.
  • Knowing When Jars are Properly Sealed
  • You’ll hear the sound of can tops popping shortly—a sign that a secure seal has been made. Once the jars are cool, check the seal by removing the outer ring and lifting the jar by holding only the lid. If it stays intact, you have successfully canned your food. If the seal is loose or broken, you may reprocess in the water bath within 24 hours. Be sure to replace the lid and check the jar rim for cracks or nicks and replace if necessary. Alternatively, you can refrigerate the jar immediately and use within three weeks.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Kelly G.

May 02, 2012

This was a very simple, straightforward recipe. If you can cut fruit, boil water, and juice a lemon, there’s not much more you need to know. The recipe was just right on the sweetness level—there wasn’t a lot of sugar, so the rhubarb kept its tart, fresh, distinctive flavor. We enjoyed eating it on toast, as well as on vanilla bean ice cream. It’s really very easy, and a lovely recipe overall.

On a side note, I wasn’t sure why the seeds were needed in the jam, but I used them anyway. I could have left them out.

Testers Choice
Emily Olson

May 02, 2012

Beautiful color, tart flavor, hint of lemon. I cut the recipe in half for a smaller portion of jam, and was quite happy with the results. The jam set up easily on the frozen plate.

Testers Choice
Amy M.

May 02, 2012

This was delicious jam. It was tart and sweet, with a good consistency. I worried that without any pectin, the jam wouldn’t set up well, but it was fine. It came together quickly and easily, and the longest part of the process was waiting for the rhubarb to macerate with the sugar. The recipe also scales down very well, as I made only a quarter of it without any problems. I also didn’t can it, but instead made a “refrigerator” jam that I ate within a week. It was delicious on biscuits—and made one of the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I’ve ever had.

Testers Choice
Niharika S.

May 02, 2012

The recipe worked very well, even though I made only a quarter of the amount. My only variation from the recipe was that after mixing all of the ingredients, I didn’t have a chance to cook it immediately, so the mixture was left on the stove overnight. Personally, I found this to be a very sweet jam, and I couldn’t taste the rhubarb. Later, I used 1 pound of rhubarb with 3/4 cup of sugar. This was a better ratio, but I’d still like to adjust the sugar so that the sour and sweet tastes are in just the correct balance.

Testers Choice
Linda B.

May 02, 2012

I must confess, I didn’t go through all of the canning steps for this recipe. I’m storing it in the fridge because I don’t expect it to last long. I love the addition of the lemon. I even snacked on the “candied” lemon peels after I fished them out of the jam.

Testers Choice
Amy Howard

May 02, 2012

This works great as a spread with Brie. The sugar in the jam helps cut the tartness of the rhubarb. If you find it too sweet, then you can cut some of the sugar out of the recipe.

Comments
Comments
  1. This is very hard to admit but feel I’ve come to a confessional of sorts. I killed a rhubarb plant in my yard before I knew what it was. I spent three years hacking away at that ‘weed’ before I was successful. I suppose payback is now wishing I had some rhubarb. Forgive me.

  2. Elizabeth Stewart says:

    Chopped, crystallized ginger  — about 12 oz for this recipe — is a stellar addition to rhubarb jam.  I might be tempted to leave out the lemon though.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Am completely with you, Elizabeth. Lovely.

    • Amyp says:

      I agree! I thought about making a Ginger Rhubarb Jam, but figured this was a great, easy recipe for beginners. With that, the lemon is introduced pretty much solely for its high pectin quality – not so much the flavor. Enjoy! amy pennington

      • audrey says:

        Your recipe calls for 4 pounds of rhubarb. How many cups is that?

        • David Leite says:

          Audrey, that’s about 12 to 14 cups on average. But when make preserves, it’s always, always best to weigh. Perhaps your local market has a scale?

  3. Amyp says:

    Hi Kelly G, Seeds, rinds and membranes of fruit carry a lot of pectin, so I keep the seeds in any low pectin fruit/veg (like rhubarb!) that I want to cook fast and set up quickly. They likely only help a little, but a little sometimes makes the difference between a pretty crisp flavor and overcooked blah. So glad you liked it! amy pennington

  4. Jeanne says:

    One correction: if a jar does not seal, it is not safe to merely put it through the water bath again. You need to assume that the lid is not functional and throw it away. You need to put your food contents of that jar back into a pot and bring it back to a boil and put it back into a hot sterilized jar with new lid, screw back on a band, and reprocess it in the water bath for the same amount of time as specified in the recipe. (I find this very cumbersome as well as wasteful of resources; I simply put a jar that hasn’t sealed into the refrigerator and have the family use it right away.) I am also very particular about lids and make very sure ahead of time that my lids are all use-able; I therefore rarely have a failed seal.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Many thanks, Jeanne. I think by “replace” the lid Amy actually meant toss it and replace it with a new lid rather than simply put the same lid back in place. And yes, as you so articulately point out, it’s always, always, always better to be safe than sorry. Terrific reminder. And yes, we’re big fans of refrigerator, or immediate gratification, jam…

  5. ashley says:

    I just had to buy some rhubarb at the farmers market this week. It was so pink and shiny! Before today, I had never used it, so luckily I stumbled across this site as I googled rhubarb recipes. I substituted an orange for the lemon since I was all out. Boy was this YUMMMMMM!!!! Amazing on a whole wheat English muffin.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Ashley, we couldn’t be happier to hear about your rhubarb experience! And we agree, this recipe is a definite keeper. Stay tuned, we have some additional rhubarb recipes to share in the weeks to come…

  6. Martha in KS says:

    I just planted some rhubarb. I’ll get to try this recipe in two years when I get a crop. Might have to buy some so I can try it sooner.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Or beg some from a neighbor…? Although we envy you that crop of stalks beneath floppy leaves you’ll have in a couple years…

  7. Andrew says:

    How much jam does this recipe yield?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Hey, Andrew. The recipes makes enough to fill about 5 pint jars. Just for future reference, you’ll find the yield for this (and every) recipes on Leite’s Culinaria just beneath the photo at the top of each post…

  8. SRM says:

    this is really really great and so easy. i added a couple of teaspoons of rosewater and quartered the recipe.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Swell work on making the recipe your own, SRM. Love when folks do that. Although I have to admit, I love this recipe just as is.

  9. Jessica says:

    Followed directions exactly and my first time canning was a success. My 3 and 4 year old boys both loved the jam!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Success! We love to hear that, Jessica. Thanks for letting us know. And we love this recipe–actually, every recipe–from cookbook author and canning guru Amy Pennington. She makes everything seem so easy…

    • David Leite says:

      Congrats! Here’s to many more canning sessions.

  10. joanna bain says:

    I have an old recipe for rhubarb and fig jam. All you need is 6 lbs of rhubarb, 6 lbs of sugar, and 1 lb of dried figs. Make according to recipe on this website. Yum!

  11. Debi Ramey says:

    Can you substitute lemon juice? And if so how much? I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    • David Leite says:

      Hey, Debi. I’m a bit confused. You want to substitute lemon juice for what? There already is lemon juice in the recipe.

      • Debi Ramey says:

        I am sorry. What I meant to say is can you substitute bottled lemon juice for fresh and if so how much would you use?

        • Beth Price says:

          Hi Debi, I think it would be fine to use bottled lemon juice. One lemon, juiced, is equal to approximately 3 tablespoons.

  12. Sue says:

    Jam has always been hit or miss with me. I love the idea of using the lemon and seeds for the pectin instead of a package of pectin. Cross your fingers!!!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Let us know how it goes, Sue! Not to jinx things, but we’ve not had a bad batch yet….

  13. Karly in Alaska says:

    I’m hoping this is more on the rhubarby side than anything else with having all the lemon in it. I love just rhubarb and that’s what I’m looking for. Can anyone attest to this?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Karly, definitely more rhubarby. Anyone else care to attest to this preserves’ rhubarbiness?

  14. Julia says:

    Found some late season Rhubarb and want to make up jam to eat all winter – normally I just make a small amount and eat within a week and use very little sugar – I like the tart taste. So basically I want to use as little sugar as possible while still being safe for canning. Anybody have enough experience to give me a good answer? Much appreciated!

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Julia, I asked our canning guru, Melissa, and these are her thoughts. Hope this helps!

      I also like to reduce the sugar in my jams. It’s OK to do as long as you are aware of the trade-offs. Rhubarb is pretty acidic, with a pH of about
      3 – 3.2, well below the 4.6 threshold where botulism would be a concern. So from a safety standpoint, there is no problem canning it with less
      sugar. To be on the safe side, I would pack hot jam into a hot jar and process in a boiling water bath for a minimum of 10 minutes for a pint jar
      (which is a little longer than the recipe says). The sugar in jam recipes is a preserving agent, and also contributes to the texture. So if you do
      reduce it, be aware that the jam may have a looser texture, and also that it may tend to darken a little more than a higher sugar jam would. Rhubarb does not have a lot of pectin, so it might come out more like a syrup or soft conserve. But all that is purely aesthetic. While I’d feel
      comfortable reducing the sugar in this recipe, say by half, I wouldn’t reduce it more than that, as the jam won’t set as well and the quality
      over time will not hold up as well.

  15. David Franck says:

    I grew up with rhubarb. Never overpowered with strawberries. My mother taught me to process the jam through a ricer. Lots of pulp…no strings. Just processing 20# of frozen Minnesota “free” rhubarb. Going to do the lemon thing…always used store bought pectin. Wish me luck.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Luck, David! Love the brilliant ricer tip, many thanks for sharing, and be certain to let us know how it goes. This is one of the most clicked-on recipes on the site, and with good reason….

  16. andrew_ysk says:

    Hi, i followed your recipe exact to the word, but the jam just refused to set, even after 20 minutes of simmering. what could be wrong?

    At then end I added in some nature pectin. I have had bad experience with pectin jam before. It was a really big batch, hence i took very much precaution in making.

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Andrew, sorry that you had some issues with the jam setting. You said that it was a really big batch, did you use the exact proportions set out in the recipe? Also if your rhubarb was a bit older, the natural pectins could have started to convert to pectose which inhibits the jelling process. Finally, sometimes those jams can be tricky. They don’t appear to have set but after canning and resting a few days, they are perfect.

  17. Cat says:

    Wonderful tasting and so easy! Thanks very much for the recipe!

  18. Brian says:

    If I put this jam in 1/2-pint jars, how long should I process them for in the water bath?

    Thanks!

    • Beth Price says:

      Hi Brian, I spoke with Melissa, one of our canning experts and she said 5 minutes, and that assumes the jars are hot when you pack the jam, and the water is preheated. It would be risky to lower the processing time from 5 minutes even going with a smaller jar. Not that the jam would be unsafe, but it just wouldn’t keep as well over time, and you would risk not getting a good seal.

  19. Greg says:

    This turned out great, maybe a little too sweet. However, my rhubarb seems to be a little less tart than others. I had way too much rhubarb to know what to do with, so this was a great recipe to use! The jam set perfectly. This was my first time canning, but I followed your instructions and all of my jars sealed. Well, except for one, the bottom broke off of it. I’m not sure if I dropped it by mistake as I was putting it in, or if it was because I didn’t put a towel at the bottom of the pot and it vibrated until it cracked.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Hey Greg, lovely to hear from you! I so appreciate you taking the time to let us know how well this recipe worked for you. As for the jars, either of the scenarios you mention could have resulted in the jar breaking, although it’s also possible the jar had a slight crack to begin with…and as for the sweetness of the jam, as you note, it all depends on the rhubarb. With a little time and practice, you’ll quickly come to learn how to adjust the amount of sugar to the rhubarb’s tartness per your liking. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…!

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