Yes, that’s right, there’s rhubarb and beer in the title of this recipe. I think this jam would be worth making just for the fun of pouring beer over rhubarb or the looks you get when you serve it to people and tell them what it’s called. But though you’d probably never have guessed, rhubarb and beer make a darn good jam when mixed together.
As mentioned before, we have an ample supply of beautiful rhubarb stalks from our allotments, more than even we can eat in tarts and cobblers and compotes. And what do gardener’s do when the supply exceeds demand? They preserve the excess.
I made this jam last year too and and since it was definitely worth repeating, I figured it would also be worth sharing with you. The recipe comes from my favorite book on canning The Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant. I made other recipes from it before and they all have the enticing multi-layered quality that makes you go back and taste again to try to figure out the unusual flavors. I also like that the recipes are generally low in sugar. There is just 200 g sugar to 1 kilo fruit in this recipe, which is a small amount, especially considering we’re talking rhubarb the tart here. The tang of the fruit is mellowed by the long maceration.
I asked my husband to buy the wheat beer because that is his area of expertise and he got the Bavarian “Köning Ludwig”. He put the bottle on my cookbook-shelf in the kitchen and because I liked how it looked on the background of the colorful book spines, that’s where I photographed it. The subtleties of beer taste (unlike chocolate) are lost on me but I was reassured by the manufacturer’s website that states that “HRH Luitpold, Prince of Bavaria pays personal attention to the high quality of this beer and the exclusive resources from southern Germany”. I wonder what he’d think if he knew I cooked it with rhubarb to make a jam – would he be mad or flattered?
Rhubarb beer jam
Adapted from Paul Virant: The Preservation Kitchen
makes about 5 quarter-of-a-liter (1 cup) jars
The first time I made the jam I added a teaspoon on cloves on a whim and it proofed an inspired addition. While definitely not necessary, it pairs really well with the other flavors.
Please note that making the process is spread over two days.
1 kilo (2 pounds 3 ounces) rhubarb stalks
500 ml (2 cups) wheat beer
200g (1 cup) sugar
1 tsp of whole cloves (optional)
juice and grated zest of 1 organic lemon
Dice the rhubarb. I cut it into pieces of about 1 cm (½ inch) but you cut it bigger or smaller depending whether you want your jam smoother or more textured.
In a large heavy-bottomed pan, bring the rhubarb together with the other ingredients to a simmer. Take off the heat, let cool and refrigerate overnight or up to 5 days.
The next day (or up to 5 days later) strain the juices into a wide, heavy-bottomed pan. Reserve the rhubarb. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 12 minutes, or until it reaches 100 degrees C (215 F). Add the reserved rhubarb and bring back to a gentle boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about another 10 minutes or until it nears 100 degrees C (215 F) – the jam should lightly coat the back of a spoon.
Pour the jam carefully into sterilized jars ( I sterilize mine by boiling them in water for 10 minutes). Wipe the rims clean if necessary and tightly close the lids. Turn the jars upside down for 10 minutes ( this way the air passes through the hot jam and is sterilized too).
Let cool, label and store in a cool dark place. The jam keeps for at least a year.