Rhubarb and Ginger Jam
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  • 675 g rhubarb
  • 675 g sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 40 g fresh ginger
  • 25 g preserved ginger


  • 1 1/2 lb rhubarb
  • 1 1/2 lb sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 oz fresh ginger
  • 1 oz preserved ginger

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

All my old cook books abound in recipes for jams and preserves made with rhubarb since rhubarb plants were once found in most New Zealand gardens, usually flourishing somewhere near the compost heap - rhubarb is partial to a good feed. A native of Asia - I've seen wild rhubarb growing at high altitudes in Nepal - it was used principally as a medicine until the eighteenth century and was known as 'the wondrous drug' used to combat indigestion. But its popularity at the table has waxed and waned through the years since some adore a rhubarb crumble for pudding while others abhor it. In her delightful collection of rhubarb recipes from around the world, 'Rhubarbaria', social historian Mary Prior includes nineteen recipes for jams, several of them from New Zealand where she grew up as a daughter of the manse, very aware of the importance of the rhubarb patch in the garden as an extender of puddings when her mother had to feed unexpected guests. And in jams, it does very well indeed. Mary Prior, 'Rhubarbaria: Recipes for Rhubarb', Prospect Books, Devon, 2009

Preparing the fruit

  1. Trim and wipe the rhubarb and cut it into pieces about 1 inch / 25 mm long. Layer it into a large bowl with the sugar and the juice and grated zest of the lemon. Cover and leave overnight.

Getting ready

  1. Wash jam jars and their lids in hot water, rinse them and put them in the oven set to 250 °F /120 °C for about 30 minutes to drain and dry. Put a couple of small saucers into the freezer - you'll use them to test the jam for setting. Bash the root ginger with something heavy, and tie it in a piece of muslin to make it easier to remove later.Cut the preserved ginger into slivers.

Making the jam

  1. Put the rhubarb, sugar and all the juice into a preserving pan with the root ginger. Heat slowly, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, then bring to a fast boil.
  2. After 10 minutes test the jam for a set. To do this, remove the pot from the heat, put a small spoonful of jam onto one of your chilled saucers, wait about 30 seconds, and then push a finger gently through it. If the surface wrinkles slightly in front of your finger the jam is ready.
  3. Turn off the heat, remove the hot jars from the oven and put them on a board.
  4. Remove the bag with the root ginger, stir in the chopped preserved ginger, ladle the jam into the jars, cover and leave to set. Makes about 6 cups / 1500 ml.


  1. The fresh ginger gives background warmth to this jam and the preserved ginger adds real bite. In the 1915 edition of Whitcombe and Tombs's 'Colonial Everyday Cookery', the Rhubarb and Ginger Jam is flavoured just before potting with 1/2 tsp almond essence. I like this addition.