Nothing says Spring like the arrival of rhubarb!
My granddaughter brought be an abundant bouquet of freshly pulled rhubarb this week. It was magnificent! The beautiful, ruby stalks are frequently paired with strawberries, also in season at the same time, and usually in a sweet application –– strawberry rhubarb pie or crisp, muffins, coffee cake, punch, jam. Of course, you can use rhubarb with its delightful sourness in many savory applications, often as a substitute for lemon or an acid. Braised, roasted, grilled, with any number of other spring vegetables. Love it or hate it, it has a flavor like nothing else.
A balancing act
This marmalade is a delightful mix of sweet, bitter, sour, and warm. Each of the elements contributes to the finished jam in unique flavor harmony. I added the jalapeño because I had a couple of them in the refrigerator that needed to be used, and I got to thinking of a hot pepper jelly a friend of mine makes. I tossed it in the mix and was delighted with the outcome. The pepper only added a bit of warmth, but a delightful pepper flavor that blended beautifully with the rhubarb and the orange.
Let’s think about the color too!
I added a bit of wine to both increase the tartness to balance the sugar, but also for its beautiful color. The alcohol does boil out, but if you don’t want to use it, substitute a tart cranberry juice.
Enjoy this as you would any marmalade. It is delicious served with goat cheese on crackers or slices of baguette, smeared on an English muffin, or used as a topping for ice cream or even salmon or tofu.
You can either store this in the refrigerator, or process it in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to make it shelf-stable. I was too busy for that step, so I refrigerated mine and will hand them out as spring gifts to my rhubarb-loving friends and family!
Rhubarb and Jalapeño Pepper Marmalade
- 1 1/2 pounds rhubarb stalks, sliced
- 3 oranges, peel and flesh
- 1 – 2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 firm green apple, peeled and diced
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 7 cups sugar
Slice the rhubarb stalks thinly and place in a large pot.
Now, the oranges. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the oranges in long strips. Cut any large peelings into ¼-inch strips. Remove the white pith, then section and seed the flesh. Place the peelings and flesh into the pot along with the jalapeño, apple, wine, and sugar.
Place the pot over medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring every now and then, it doesn’t need a lot of fussing.
While the marmalade is simmering, place a small glass plate in the freezer, an old kitchen trick. After 45 minutes, you take out the plate and add a dab of the jam. It will cool almost instantly, and you will be able to gage how much your jam has jelled. If it is still runny, cook a little longer.
Place in jars you have run through the dishwasher, and refrigerate, or process in a water bath for 10 minutes to store on the shelf.
This makes about four pints. Store in the refrigerator, or give away these welcome spring treats!
A quicker version:
The actual hands-on time for this recipe is pretty short, the simmering does not need a lot of fussing. However, you can also use a boxed pectin to speed up the cooking time. Without it, the apple provides extra pectin for the jam.
Just place all ingredients in the pot except the sugar and add the box of pectin. Bring to a full boil, then add the sugar and bring to a boil again. When it is at the stage you cannot stir the boil down, cook for another minute. Place in sterilized jars immediately, and refrigerate or process.
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