I love how ginger complements rhubarb, probably because they both originated in the same part of the world – Asia. Oranges are also a natural complement to both. Last year, when I was on a rosemary kick, I made rhubarb jam with oranges and rosemary, which was good but a little dull. Needing spark, I opted for ginger instead of rosemary this time.
Since rhubarb is low in pectin and I do not like the powder or gel, I needed to figure how to make the preserves gel without breaking down the fruit since I wanted the result to be chunky. I’m aware of a technique that involves macerating the fruit overnight and then boiling down the juices with sugar before re-incorporating the fruit. I don’t recall where I saw this but I’ve searched the Internet and see mentions of Chocolate and Zucchini leading back to Christine Ferber and Mes Confitures. Attributions aside, I just winged this. Adding the zest and the orange seeds (pips) to the fruit and juice helps create pectin, which positively affects the ability to gel.
Rhubarb Preserves with Orange and Ginger (makes 3-4 half-pint jars)
1 – 1 ½ lbs rhubarb, cleaned, trimmed and cut into ¾-inch pieces (4 cups)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp grated orange rind
Orange seeds, if any, wrapped in a small piece of cheesecloth tied with a string
4 quarter sized slices of ginger
Thoroughly mix all ingredients in a bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar and let the mixture mascerate overnight. When ready to can, prepare the canning jars and canner. Drain the rhubarb, removing the bag of pips if using, and bring the liquid to a boil in a deep saucepan, cooking until it reaches the gel point (220 degrees, tested on an ice-cold plate for runniness, or a little hotter since the rhubarb’s juices will dilute the mix). Add the reserved rhubarb, bring to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes. Ladle into hot canning jars and can via water bath process for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the lid and let sit for 5 minutes before removing to the counter to sit undisturbed for a day.