the freshest rhubarb and orange jam

there are some ingredients can’t resist because they are just so pretty to look at – forced rhubarb is one, with its vibrant pink stems. using this to make delicately hued rhubarb gin or schnapps (i tend to alternate) is an annual event but i have added something extra to my list – a wonderfully fresh tasting rhubarb and orange jam from lillie o’brien of london borough of jam.

this is the best recipe i’ve found for rhubarb jam – the fruit is mixed overnight with orange juice and zest plus jam sugar, which helps to draw out the excess water in the rhubarb and helps keep whole pieces of rhubarb once cooked. it’s also a jam that reaches setting point very quickly – the recipe below says 5 minutes but mine tends to take nearer ten – which keeps the flavour of both the rhubarb and the orange quite fresh and worlds away from the stewed flavour that some rhubarb jams have. later in the year i’d like to try this method with strawberries, to see if i can get a similar freshness of flavour. 

lillie o’brien’s forced yorkshire rhubarb jam (makes approximately 1.5l or three 500g jars)

1.2kg rhubarb, leaves trimmed

700g preserving sugar

rose geranium leaves (optional, i've not managed to make it with these)

100ml freshly squeezed blood

orange juice and zest

wipe and trim the rhubarb, and weigh. slice it into small pieces and place into a preserving pan. add the sugar, torn geranium leaves, blood orange juice and zest and leave overnight to macerate. the next day bring rhubarb to the boil until setting point is reached; about five minutes. leave to rest for 10 minutes then pour into sterilised jars.