In a jam.

My mother has a habit of sending me recipes, usually it’s a hint that she wants me to make them for her. If it’s a recipe for a flourless chocolate cake, or anything involving fruits (especially berries) or balsamic vinegar, I know right away she’s not sending it to me because she thinks I’ll like it. So when I told her I ordered a canning kit, and she saw me become a fan of Punk Domestics on Facebook, and then within a few days received this recipe in my inbox, I knew where she was going with it. See, I don’t like rhubarb. It’s not my kind of flavor, personally. And I don’t like jam much either. I love making it, just not using it, which actually makes me the perfect person to make it. Like Biggie said,Never get high on your own supply.” Word. So anyway, she passed along the recipe and I knew that she’d want me to make it for her. And I obliged. I made this a week or so ago, so it was before her birthday (which is today, July 5th; happy birthday to her!). I just did it because I’m wonderful. For her birthday, I made her French vanilla ice cream, David Lebovitz‘s “improved” lemon curd, another really quick blueberry jam (those recipes are all coming soon, folks, be patient) and vanilla panna cotta with balsamic strawberries (her favorite). *waits for accolades & applause*

So this particular jam is a ginger/rhubarb combination, which I’ve heard (from people who’ve tasted it) is an amazing duo. Usually it’s strawberry/rhubarb that you see in pies, etc. Anywho… yes, I made this lovely, quick & easy jam like a good daughter. The best part? It doesn’t even require a canning kit! You don’t need anything fancy to make this… and it really is ridiculously easy.

As far as the ingredients, I’ll leave the details to Wikipedia:

Rhubarb is grown primarily for its fleshy petioles, commonly known as rhubarb sticks or stalks. The use of rhubarb stems as food is a relatively recent innovation, first recorded in 17th century England, after affordable sugar became available to common people, and reaching a peak between the 20th century’s two world wars.

Rhubarb can be dehydrated and infused with fruit juice. In most cases it is infused with strawberry juice to mimic the popular strawberry rhubarb pie.

Rhubarb root produces a rich brown dye similar to walnut husks. It is used in northern regions where walnut trees do not survive.

Ginger is the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, consumed as a delicacy, medicine, or spice. It lends its name to its genus and family (Zingiberaceae). Other notable members of this plant family are turmeric, cardamom, and galangal.

Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground ginger at a ratio of 6 to 1, although the flavors of fresh and dried ginger are somewhat different. Powdered dry ginger root is typically used as a flavoring for recipes such as gingerbread, cookies, crackers and cakes, ginger ale, and ginger beer.

Candied ginger is the root cooked in sugar until soft, and is a type of confectionery.

Natural brown sugar is brown sugar made by partially refining sugar cane extract, whereas most brown sugar is made by adding molasses to fully refined sugar.

Golden coloured natural brown sugar is produced by extracting the juice from sugar cane, heating it to evaporate water and crystallise the sugar, then spinning in a centrifuge to remove some impurities and further dry the sugar. It is commonly used in baking and to sweeten beverages such as coffee and tea.

In the United States, a similar sugar is commonly called turbinado sugar, after the centrifuges or turbines in which it is spun.[1] In the United States, most turbinado sugar is produced in Hawaii and is often sold as an organic product. A product sold in the U.S. is marketed under the name brand “Sugar in the Raw”.[2] There are slight differences in taste between turbinado and demerara sugar.[3]A third, somewhat lighter, type is produced in Mexico under the name Azucar Morena[4].

All three of these ingredients are interesting in and of themselves, but who would’ve thought by just boiling them together with a little citrus zest you’d get a quick little jam? And …I had to make a pound cake to go with it, just to make it more interesting for me. Rhubarb is a very ‘stringy’ vegetable/fruit/thing, and when cooked it gets gluey very fast, despite being low in pectin, and the caramelized sugar helps to hold it together really well. It gets firmer after being in the fridge for a while, it’s looser if you use it warm. And who doesn’t like some jam on pound cake? I mean, aside from me, that is. Either way- this pound cake is terrific, with or without the ‘barb jam. More about that after the recipe, though. First- jam!

RHUBARB GINGER JAM (From Local Kitchen Blog/adapted from Bon Appétit, July 1997)

Yields about 1 and ½ cups

Gather yer stuff:

  • 1 lb rhubarb, trimmed, washed and sliced to ⅛-inch pieces (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 3 oz crystallized ginger, chopped (about 9 tbsp)
  • 1 ½ tsp lemon & orange zest (about half:half), coarsely chopped

Then do this:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar and prevent scorching.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until jam thickens and mounds on a spoon, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a glass bowl or jar, cover and chill in the refrigerator. Store refrigerated for up to 3 months, or canned & kept in a cool, dark spot for up to a year.
  4. Options: Evaporated cane juice, or processed white sugar, will produce a more rosy colored jam than the turbinado sugar, but turbinado gives a hint of caramelized flavor.  Your choice. · This produces a quite gingery jam; if you don’t love ginger, try making it with 1-2 oz ginger first. If you adore ginger, try 4 oz. · Given the acidic rhubarb and dried, candied ginger, this recipe is safely acidic for water-bath canning should you want to increase the amounts and save some for room temperature storage.

I used about half, maybe a little more than half of the amount of ginger in the recipe, and it was more than ginger-y enough (or so I heard). I also used the turbinado sugar, because I figured it was in the original recipe for a reason. The caramelized color/flavor was enjoyed very much, so I doubt I’d stray from it. I plopped the jam in a cleaned-out spaghetti sauce jar (I told you, SAVE YOUR JARS) and had room to spare (the above photos were taken after liberal amounts were dispersed among slices of pound cake & into people’s mouths). The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, though. If you aren’t quite ready for real canning, there are tons of these quick jam recipes out there that are really easy and a good foray into the real thing. By the way, this post is in the ‘vegan’ category because of the jam, not the cake. Duh.

Okay, now on to that pound cake. I got this recipe for a traditional pound cake from that book I mentioned a while back Sweets: Soul Food Desserts & Memories by Patty Pinner. I figured, if I’m gonna make a pound cake, why not go for the gold and make a real, authentic Southern one. I used a plain tube pan, but a fancier bundt pan would be nice too. The cake itself doesn’t need a lot of bells & whistles; it’s perfect plain, as I said, but also an awesome backdrop for ice creams, any kind of jams or jellies &  especially sauces (raspberry sauce, rhubarb sauce, strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce… you name it). Also, a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar is always nice on top, but not 100% necessary.

Talk about a beautiful goddamn pound cake! It was perfect, from the texture to the crumb to everything. Best pound cake ever.

POUND CAKE

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Confectioner’s sugar (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease & lightly flour a 10-inch tube pan. Set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture is light & fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the flour to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk; begin and end with flour.
  4. Beat on low speed, just until blended, after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract. Mix well.
  5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan. Unmold the cake carefully onto the rack to cool completely.
  6. Transfer the cake to a decorative platter and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar, if desired, before serving.

So there you have it. A perfect combination of treats to bring to a barbecue or picnic. Or, to make for your mother.

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21 comments

  1. Deborah Biasi

    Accolades & applause! where do you find the books you mention? Are they old classics or new? I have never heard of any of your references

  2. Angella

    makes sense – that is similar to how you make cranberry sauce, too! i’m not one for rhubarb either, but this looks pretty 🙂

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