In Rhubarb Kumquat Jam We Trust

I’m a believer in jam. I think a society that deals in filled and sealed jam jars as its currency is probably pretty happy as a whole. Swapping blueberry jam for boysenberry couldn’t possibly breed ill will. People would be too busy baking biscuits for smothering with fruit spread to worry much about a looming apocalypse or adulterous politico. In jam we trust.

Think about it. With jam everybody wins.

Rhubarb jam on toast on another unseasonably disagreeable day may feel as precious as gold when you’re at the breakfast table. And things have gotten pretty complicated for us here. So let’s slow down. Make some jam.

Homemade jam is a bottled season that you can open whenever you need a little pick-me-up. A reminder that there is still good that comes from the world turning and time passing. Yes, it is has been rainy and cool for weeks here, but I know its spring because I can see ruby red rhubarb. And when I talked to my mother yesterday she had just picked a few stalks to make some loaves of rhubarb bread. It made me homesick.

Yes, I had that kind of childhood. I grew up with loaves of quick bread and jars of homemade jam made with fruit picked by my house or from a nearby orchard we’d travel to in our minivan. So I have a sweet spot for the stuff. (Please note: I do not—nor will I ever—have a sweet spot for minivans. Especially maroon-colored ones.)

While my life isn’t currently filled with rhubarb plants and blackberry bushes in convenient proximity, having a steady supply of homemade jam certainly doesn’t hurt. It’s also entirely possible to pull off. For credibility with this, I point to The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders. It’s divided into delicious seasons and features classics like East Coast blueberry jam, as well as pairings that place cardamom and orange marmalade together (at last!).

So I couldn’t resist when I found kumquats for Saunders’ rhubarb kumquat jam. The tiny oval-shaped citrus is a lovely counterpart to the rhubarb and the jam has enough sugar to soothe the face pucker that rhubarb often provides. This spread is pleading for a partner in the buttermilk scone department. But it’s also lovely eaten simply by the spoonful, sitting on a kitchen stoop. (Mine has definitely seen a fair amount of jam action going down recently.)

So if someone is selling a society based on jam, I’m buying. I’ll happily collect my rhubarb jam, pack up, and ship out. I’m certain this jam is better than a greenback: good for most debts, public and private, and far superior on scones.

Rhubarb Kumquat Jam
Adapted from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

3.5 pounds trimmed rhubarb stalks, cut into 2 inch chunks
6.75 cups sugar
5 ounces fresh lemon juice
3/4 pound kumquats, sliced into thin rounds and seeds removed
A few drops of orange blossom water

Day 1
Place rhubarb in a large non-reactive stock pot and pour sugar over it; add lemon juice and let steep for 24 hours at room temperature.

Day 2
Heat rhubarb on stovetop and add in kumquats, stirring well. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Continue to heat at a boil for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently and turning down the heat to prevent scorching, as necessary. Continue to stir the jam, almost constantly, for another 10 minutes or so to prevent it from sticking, until the jam has thickened.

To test for doneness, place a bit of jam on a spoon and put it on a plate in the freezer for a few minutes to see what the consistency of the jam will be like when cooled (you can also place the plate and spoon in the freezer ahead of time). When the desired consistency is reached (the jam shouldn't easily slip off the spoon) add the orange blossom water.

When your jam is done, pour into sterilized jars and process them for canning or simply place the jam in freezer-safe containers and store in your freezer, removing pints as needed.

Makes about 4 pints

-Please note, this jam takes 24 hours plus to make.

-Saunders notes letting the rhubarb macerate for 24 hours at room temperature will help the rhubarb release its lovely juices.

-Whole Foods has orange blossom water, as will Middle Eastern grocers. You can always leave it out, but it adds a nice depth and subtle floral quality.


  1. I've been going back and forth on what kind of jam I want to make with the ruby stalks that have been in my fridge. I was leaning towards cardamon with a hint of vanilla, but now with this new recipe, I just don't know anymore. I'm also new to the whole canning/jarring process. I've read all the directions, and even seen it done before. but I'm still a little scared to give it a shot. Any chance you know how long the jam will last in the freezer? I'm one of those people that thinks if it's frozen, indefinitely, but I do worry about crystals and stuff with this one.

  2. I have never had rhubarb jam and can only imagine seeing it here that it must be incredibly delicious!

  3. Oh Molly your jam sounds great too ... we share a mutual love for cardamom. Saunders recommends the canned jam is good for a year. Being conservative I'd give the freezer version at least 6 months. You can store most meats for that long before they start to get freezer burned. And the jam should be much more forgiving.

  4. This sounds delicious! I plan to go jam-crazy this summer as it's one of my fave foods in the world and I eat it every day...

  5. Scones, or maybe just a teaspoon ontop of some greek yogurt for a cheeky mid morning snack. Looks absolutely divine.

  6. i'm in. jam-as-currency is a fool-proof plan...the folks who are too goofy to make their own are just out of luck. :)

  7. I'm the founder/moderator for Punk Domestics (www.punkdomestics.com), a community site for those of use obsessed with, er, interested in DIY food. It's sort of like Tastespotting, but specific to the niche. I'd love for you to submit this to the site. Good stuff!

  8. Thanks for visiting Sean. Your site is a real gem for those (insanely?) interested in making DIY food. Will definitely submit it!

  9. I loved reading your post this morning. It set me to browsing through others you have on your blog. I'm so glad I did that. I love the food and recipes you feature here and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  10. In jam we trust! There really is nothing that compares to homemade jam on fresh baked bread. Not that I've ever made jam nor bread, but I've eaten both at other people's homes ;) And now I want a scone...

  11. The second the idea to have jam currency! Its a sweet idea! Never ever tried rhubarb jam, unfortunately I haven't seen it in supermarkets either