Rhubarb Preserves with Orange and Ginger

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.

Categories: Preserving, Rhubarb, Tigress Can JamTags: , ,


  1. Amanda

    are there any tricks to this preserves recipe? I want to make sure it sets since there is no pectin added to it. Any suggestions would be welcomed!

    • Since the time I wrote this post, I’ve made quite a few jams, including a couple of jams with rhubarb (go to my home page to see them). I think the trick is to let the fruit macerate, meaning soak in sugar, for a few hours at least. Rhubarb is pretty easy to get to gel since it does not have a high water content. Adding citrus — zest, juice or (temporarily) seeds helps since they are full of pectin.

      The most important thing is to learn how to test the gel. I don’t rely on the thermometer that indicates 221 degrees as gel point, since some fruit gels more quickly and to get it to that temperature would burn it. My gel test is to place a drop of hot jam on a saucer that’s been left in the freezer for at least ten minutes and press it to see if it “wrinkles.” Hope this works for you. Since every fruit and every cooking situation is different, you just need to go with the flow!

  2. Easy, and worked like a charm. But I admit I will skip the orange next time. Somehow the taste didn’t quite grab me as much as I thought it would.

    Oh, and I probably trebled the quantity of ginger, given that I am a huge fan of ginger.

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