Vanilla-Rhubarb Butter

Vanilla rhubarb butter jamIt’s a late cool spring in SE Michigan: only this week have I seen the first crocus blooms. I don’t have much expectation of local produce yet. There are a few local farmers who have hoop houses – and today my trip to the Farmers Market brought me the season’s first rhubarb, which I made into my very first preserve of 2014: vanilla-rhubarb butter. What a nice way to begin the canning year!

Let me point you to Marisa McClellan’s website, Food in Jars. Her fuss-free approach is just what I like in my own kitchen. She’s recently published her second book, Preserving by the Pint, which is every bit as wonderful as her first Food in Jars. Both are highly recommended! I began with her recipe for Vanilla-Rhubarb Jam with Earl Grey, and adapted it to my own taste. I prefer a smooth spread, so I use an immersion blender to make a ‘fruit butter’ texture. In two batches of this jam, made a day apart, I had different tea in my pot: in one I used Earl Grey tea, and in the other, Keemun (a China black tea).

Vanilla-Rhubarb Butter with tea  adapted from Marisa McClellan

  • 8 c chopped rhubarb  (from about 2.5 lb rhubarb stalks)
  • 4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 c strong tea (Marisa’s original specifies Earl Grey tea, I have also used Keemun, and like both versions) 
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • pinch salt
  • 1 3-oz packet liquid pectin

Prepare your jars and lids as usual; heat water for a boiling-water bath.

In a 4-5 quart nonreactive pot, combine the rhubarb, sugar, and tea; bring this to a boil. Add the vanilla innards, lemon juice, and salt to the pot, and let the mixture cook gently, bubbling, over medium heat 15 to 20 minutes, until the rhubarb begins to break down.

Whiz it with an immersion blender until the mixture is very smooth. Add the packet of liquid pectin and increase heat to high. Bring the jam to a rolling boil, and let it boil vigorously 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often, so that the bottom doesn’t burn.

Remove pot from the heat and ladle jam into prepared jars. Wipe jar rims and apply lids and bands. If your last jar is only partly filled, just stick a lid on it and refrigerate.

Process the full jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.


4 Responses

  1. […] vanilla rhubarb butter when rhubarb is abundant […]

  2. […] vanilla-rhubarb butter with tea […]

  3. […] Vanilla rhubarb butter. Perfect for this long, slow spring. […]

  4. This sounds so yummy, do you think the recipe can be converted for use with Stevia?

    • I understand that stevia keeps its properties at temperatures up to 400˚F, which means you should be able to bring it up to temperature to can with it. That said, I have not used it myself, and cannot find it referenced in any of the typical resources: National Center for Home Food Preservation, various extension services, and the like.

      Sugar plays two important roles in canning preserves: first, it helps jams to set. You’re cooking the jam to 220˚F, the gel stage. This is the temperature at which sugar will bond with pectin and provide structure. The second important role is as preservative. This means that a preserve made with low sugar – or a sugar substitute – will not last as long.

    • For whatever it may be worth, the low-sugar (admittedly not no-sugar because I dislike the aftertaste of stevia, but usually about 20-25% of the usual sugar content, and as often as not that’s honey rather than cane sugar – last year I riffed off Marisa’s vanilla rhubarb jam using honey and it was a smash hit, even though it was September rhubarb and so came out olive green instead of pink!) jams I made with Pomona’s pectin last August are still very tasty now in May. I use Pomona’s rather than regular liquid or powder pectin because of the sugar, and I find it more user-friendly. So I suggest Ginger take a look at Pomona’s, which is available in most health food stores as well as online.

    • Thanks for your suggestion! I’ve had good experiences with Pomona’s pectin as well.

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