Monday, May 17, 2010

The Healing Wonders of Jam: Rhubarb Mint Jam

Have you ever had a period in your life where something ugly reared its ugly head and consumed you, only to spit you out a different a slightly scarred person? In that time you may feel a heavy weight that mysteriously disconnects you from your body and and makes your mind weightless as your emotions cavort and wreak havoc upon your life. It is a strange and awful world where words make little sense and the familiar becomes a source of anxiety and distress.

To all the wonderful people who follow my little slice of blog heaven, thank you. Discovering your new comments over the last few weeks as I desperately wanted to write and experiment in the kitchen (but couldn't) has been a real source of joy.

My first venture into the kitchen after the seams of the world came undone was to make something for the mothers in my life. My mother and mother-in-law are two very supportive and loving women and I wanted to honour them in some small way this Mother's Day and there is no better way to show that than with a homemade gift. You are no doubt wondering why I am writing about Mother's Day a week late. Well, it's because I didn't get any pictures of that batch of jam (thanks to the foggy head space), so I had to wait until I made another batch.

The other day I ventured into the kitchen to concoct another batch of this lovely jam and I must say, I'm happy with the results. I didn't bother processing in a boil water bath because I didn't want to waste the snap lids, but feel free to do so. Process for 10 minutes in a boil water bath, just make sure there are a few inches of water above the jars.

The original recipe was developed by Marisa at Food in Jars and in it's original incantation it was a rhubarb and rosemary jam. If you like making your own preserves you should definitely head over to her blog, she is definitely a fantastic resource! I made a few changes, some borne out of taste preferences (mint for rosemary), some out of necessity (a lack of pectin).

The Recipe

4 cups chopped rhubarb
3 cups sugar
1 cup water
2-3 generous sprigs of mint

1. Crush the mint a bit to release the oils. You could even wrap the crushed/chopped herbs in cheese cloth for easier removal.

2. Combine all ingredients and bring to a soft boil, make sure the mix in bubbling. I stir this fairly often so that it won't stick to the bottom of the pot.

3. You'll notice I didn't use pectin, instead I just let it simmer on medium until it reached 220* degrees. Feel free to use pectin. If you do so, add the pectin after the rhubarb is broken down, stir it in and boil for 2 minutes. Marisa notes this jam can overcook very easily and the woman speaks the truth. Remove the pot from the heat once it reaches 220 or after the 2 minute mark. Remove the mint.

4. Ladle into jars. It's your choice here; either you can process in a boil water canner for 10 minutes or allow to cool and treat it as if it were freezer jam (which means stick it in the freezer!).

Ta da! Jam. This is divine on a slice of toast or even as an impromptu chutney for chicken or pork. I even caught my little girl fishing out a spoonful this morning which she ate straight up. Making this jam was a holistic experience and while it may not have the same profound effect on you as it did me, it's damn good jam.


  1. Oh this looks sooooo good!!! I'm definately going to try this and Food in Jars is one of my favourite blogs too :)

    I hope you feel better soon. It always shocks and stuns me when life hits me like a train wreck :( Time will heal, and so will this jam!

  2. Sarah: Thank you for being so kind. :) Time is really all it takes (plus this jam and some serious chocolate!) and it really has been getting better. Life is sometimes sneaky, isn't it? Every day is a lot better and now that I've made the first jump back into blogging, it's even better! Amazing what a little slice of the internet can do.

    Thank you! I loved making this jam, I could stand at the stove and stir, lost in my thoughts but not feel overly exerted. Plus, any excuse to visit Marisa at Food in Jars is a total bonus!

  3. This is refreshing. I've never made anything with rhubarb before. You're right about cooking, baking and blogging - it's always therapeutic for me! Glad to hear you're feeling much better!

  4. I love that you took my recipe and made it your own! Hooray for rhubarb jam!

  5. Jen: Thanks! I've just discovered rhubarb and I love it. My step-dad loves it and I think on principle alone (or teenage stubbornness) I wouldn't try it for a long time.

    Marisa: Rhubarb jam rocks! I was hoping you'd catch wind of it, I've been drooling over your recipe for quite a while.

  6. sounds yummy.. have to go to food in jars!!! I really can't wait until august..

  7. Kim: I am really looking forward to you coming home. You are so getting spoiled! You should check it out, Food in Jars is fantastic!

  8. We are going to have a blast!!!!!!! I am excited to cook together and learn some stuff.... I'm thinking...grilling lobster... yummmmm....

  9. This looks lovely, thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. Life can sometimes be unpredictable, but it is what you do after you knocked down that really defines you. It is great to hear that you are on the mend. :)

  10. I've had a life long fascination with rhubarb but have never cooked or eaten it. It looks like a vegetable but is cooked and eaten like a fruit and it freaks me out a bit that it looks like celery but is such a beautiful pink LOL

    I don't know what happened to you but I am glad to hear that you are not staying down :) I find cooking to be very therapeutic and without it I think I would soon be dragging my knuckles on the ground.

  11. Because you can, Ms. Whiteplates - to borrow from the company slogan! I do hope the canning was truly therapeutic; I always find it to require such concentration and constant attention that it takes me away from whatever is going on (of course, part of it is the whole sterilization thang...). Yours, Dan

  12. When a mother has such a very wonderful daughter that brings such joy. You have made have made your corner so special.

  13. Cilantropist: Thanks! :)

    Denise: Give in to that fascination, it's worth it! I think without cooking I'd be bouncing around a little padded room.

    Dan: Ha! The canning was perfect, it demands a lot of attention but it's not too high maintenance (in comparison with other recipes).

    Ethel: Oh, mom!