About a month ago I posted about a breakfast event I’d attended at Fifteen London, where we were got to try the first of Kenny the Baker’s hot cross buns accompanied by some incredible Barbie pink forced rhubarb and ginger jam, that Kenny had apparently made the night before especially for us. So good was this jam that I ambushed Kenny on the way out and asked if I could please have the recipe to replicate at home, which to my delight he generously provided. As my original post was already getting pretty long though I promised I’d post the recipe up separately, giving me a chance to try it out for myself first too.
A few days later we received the date for our audit at work, a black hole of a deadline which progressively sucked in and consumed more and more of my free time the closer we got it’s event horizon. With the audit now passed though (hoorah!) I can finally get back to the business of catching up with my back log of posts, starting with Kenny’s rhubarb and ginger jam.
Kenny’s rhubarb and ginger jam
(I found this made enough to fill 6 x 16oz jam jars)
- 1.8kg rhubarb
- 1.8kg granulated sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 75gms stem ginger
- 30gms unsalted butter
Wash the rhubarb and cut into 2.5cm pieces. Cover with sugar and leave overnight. The following day, place in a saucepan and add the lemon juice and ginger. Slowly bring to the boil and stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved.
Boil at approximately 115 degrees until the jam sets. Remove any scum then stir in the butter.
To finish, portion the jam into clean sterilised jars*.
“I love this jam. There’s a technique which allows the rhubarb to maintain its distinct colour, as in the lovely pinkish-red instead of turning a darker colour from boiling. By leaving the rhubarb overnight, and then following the suggested cooking techniques the following day, it will keep the rhubarbs slightly stringy and flavoursome characteristics.”
Forced rhubarb is sweeter, more tender and most strikingly appears a bright vivid crimson-pink in comparison with standard rhubarb. This bright pink colouring, as well the softer sweeter stems, are produced by transferring the rhubarb indoors for the final months before harvesting, where it grows in complete darkness. Traditionally the stems are even harvested by candlelight, as any exposure to strong light may stop the plants from growing.
Forced rhubarb is available over winter, from January through to the end of March, which unfortunately means the season is now largely over. However you may still be able to pick up some stalks to make this jam with if you’re quick. It is worth noting too with northern pride that the best forced rhubarb comes from the “Rhubarb Triangle” an area in West Yorkshire between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell (potentially the town of my namesake), and was even granted PDO status in February 2010.
Unfortunately my attempts to capture this beautiful fluorescent pink colour were not quite so successful. The first batch I buggered up through a combination of trying to be too clever for my own good, and basic human exhaustion. Kenny had mentioned when I’d asked for the jam recipe that as rhubarb doesn’t have much pectin in it I might need to add a little to help it set, although this wasn’t in the written recipe. So, feeling very smug at how clever I was being, I saved the pith and peel from a couple of blood oranges I’d eaten earlier in the week and popped them into a muslin bag together with the pips and peel from the juiced lemon called for in the recipe.
Whether this helped the jam to set any more than it would have done I have no idea; what it did do was add a pleasant citrus flavour to the finished jam, and downright get in the way as I was trying to make it. I ended up trying to stir a cauldron of bubbling, thickening, boiling hot sugar and fruit, with an awkward muslin jellyfish swimming around in it. By this point it was also 4am, which is probably why I didn’t notice the jam catching and burning on the bottom of the pan as I repeatedly tested it to see if it was set yet. What I ended up with was slightly burnt, orangey rhubarb and ginger jam, which tasted a bit like marmalade, and certainly wasn’t the same bright pink colour as Kenny’s. Oh well, apparently my dad loves it anyway and has requested several more jars.
My second attempt was made at a more reasonable hour one late afternoon, this time following the written recipe to the letter, with the exception of leaving the rhubarb to macerate for slightly (36 hours) longer than was called for because I kept finding myself too busy to get it made. This time at least I didn’t let it burn, but I still ended up with a decidedly darker, more reddy-orange colour than Kenny’s vibrant pink.
Perhaps my forced rhubarb just wasn’t up to scratch, neither batch came from the “Rhubarb Triangle”, or it may be that I just need a bit more practice with jam making. Oh well, both jams still taste great if not as good as Kenny’s, and this is certainly a recipe I’ll try again next year as soon as the forced rhubarb is back in season.
With thanks again to Hannah Norris from Nourish PR for inviting me to the Fifteen London event, and to Kenny Rankin, Head Baker and Angela Morris, Marketing and Commercial Manager at Fifteen London for providing me with the recipe.
*To sterilise jam jars either run through a hot dishwasher or wash in warm soapy water, rinse, then place on a tray in a low oven to dry for 15-20 minutes. Plastic lids can be sterilised by boiling them in a pan.