Pretty and Pink with a Little Bite: Rhubarb Ginger Jam

Good old rhubarb. It is squirting abundantly out of the ground as we speak. Sometimes I think I have more plants than anyone needs, really, which means a new way to use it is always welcome. So this week is Rhubarb Ginger Jam time with a recipe from Alma Otto in Orono.

Alma found this recipe in the Action Cookbook: Favorite Recipes from Fellow New Englanders a fund-raising cookbook printed by Laverdiere’s Drug Store a number of years ago. It was contributed by her mother-in-law Edna Otto, also of Orono, who was one of Brownie Schrumpf’s friends. (Brownie wrote a column like this one in the Bangor Daily News for quite a few years.)

“Edna and Brownie were part of a small group of friends who celebrated their birthdays together and went on trips and picnics together,” Alma wrote. She surmised that Brownie might have included this recipe at some point in a column.

“Edna enjoyed creating unusual combinations of ingredients for jams and jellies,” Alma wrote. This mix of ginger and rhubarb is really delicious. I jacked up the ginger content a bit by adding some chopped candied ginger and you can do likewise or just rely on the powdered ginger.

Also, I skipped the Sure Jell. Instead, I combined the rhubarb and sugar in a bowl and let it sit overnight, and then when I cooked it, I chopped up apple and added it. Besides mellowing the rhubarb a little, the apple usually adds enough natural pectin to do the job of jelling the mixture. I use apple with blackberry jam, too.

I like using homemade jam with yogurt for my morning granola. This jam would be spectacular on vanilla ice cream or on a plain custard or in jam cookie bars.

Rhubarb Ginger Jam on yogurt.

Edna Otto’s Rhubarb-Ginger Jam

2 ½ pounds rhubarb cut into half-inch pieces

¼ cup water

1 package Sure Jell

2 tablespoons powdered ginger

3 lbs. sugar

Cook rhubarb in water until it is tender

Add Sure Jell and ginger and bring to a boil.

Add sugar and bring to a boil again, cooking it until it sheets off a spoon.

Put into jars and seal.

Sandy’s Adaptation of Edna’s Rhubarb Ginger Jam
Serves: Makes about 4 pints
  • 2 ½ pounds rhubarb cut into half-inch pieces
  • 3 lbs. (6 cups) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons powdered ginger
  • 2 medium sized apples, cored and chopped finely
  • 6-8 slices candied ginger, chopped finely
  1. Combine rhubarb and sugar in a large bowl and let stand overnight.
  2. Pour into preserving pan or heavy non-reactive pot, add the ginger and apple and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and cook steadily.
  4. When the mixture begins to thicken, add the chopped candied ginger, and cook until the jam sheets off a spoon.
  5. Put into jars and seal.



Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.