I am lucky enough to have a big fat row of it across the old stone wall in front of my house. we didn’t inherit this, it was one of the first things we planted when we moved in. i guess it’s that provence thing again…
I know, you’d think i spoke french or something, or italian or even german for güte sake. I don’t. Regardless…i like to fancy myself throwing down with the best of those fields-of-herbs growing, stone chateau living, tea-from-a-bowl drinking, after dinner cheese eating woman … foreign terroir or no…cause i have pot, will travel.
As I said somewhere before it’s rhubarb season and i have a lot of it. last year i was on a search to find some jammin’ recipes for rhubarb, and really, when that’s what i’m looking for, i never have to look any further than christine ferber’s mes confitures. Basically, just looking at the photos in that book is like eating a big ole’ piece of jamble pie, er, humble pie, er quiche…
What i’m trying to say is that Mme Ferber can throw down when it’s time to jam. even martha pays her homage. so i took her recipe,
And made it better. i did! it’s true! (where’s martha when you need her?) Ok, i may be exaggerating…i made it different. with lavender instead of rosemary. so if new season lavender sprigs are hard for you to come by then try it with rosemary, it’s just as good!
Speaking of favorite cookbooks (i was, wasn’t i?): another beauty is the herbfarm cookbook. it’s here that i discovered that extracting flavor from herbs works better in cool or cold temperatures. so rather than simply adding the herbs to the hot cooking fruit, i macerate the lavender with the fruit overnight in the fridge and let it cook in the jam too. and WOW!
4 1/2 pounds rhubarb, stalks sliced lengthwise and then minced
5 1/2 cups granulated sugar
14 ounces light honey
juice of 3 good size lemons
20 sprigs lavender
1. slice and mince rhubarb, add sugar, juice of 2 lemons and lavender sprigs. stir this mixture gently to coat the fruit with sugar otherwise you may find a bunch of clumpy sugar at the bottom of bowl in the morning. cover with parchment paper, or place a plate over the bowl and macerate in fridge overnight.
2. next morning start by placing 2 or 3 small plates in the freezer for later use. if you are planning to preserve the jam in a hot water bath canner place jars full of water without lids in canning pot and cover with water by 1 inch. bring to a full rolling boil for at least 10 minutes to sterilize. then turn heat down and leave jars in canner until ready to fill jars. if you are not planning to preserve jam and will be putting it directly into fridge, i suggest cutting this recipe in half.
3. pass mixture through a strainer and pour collected juice into a non-reactive pan. add honey and bring to a boil. skim any foam that collects on top and continue cooking until 221 F on a candy thermometer.
6. take jam off heat and check the set – here’s where you need the small plates from freezer. when you think jam has set (try at 5 minutes) drop one teaspoon on plate and put back in freezer for 1 minute. then pass a finger through the middle of the jam. depending on the consistency of the particular jam, it will either wrinkle under your finger (if it is a thicker jam) or your finger will pass through and there will be a clear line, i.e. the jam will NOT run back together quickly again.
In both of these instances the jam has set. if the jam does not wrinkle under the finger or runs
back together quickly once your finger has passed though, it is not sufficiently set and you should put jam back on heat for another minute and check the set again. you may need to do this a few times until you get the hang of jammin.
7. when the jam is sufficiently set, follow the steps here to process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes. yields approximately ten 1/2 pint or five pint jars. the recipe can be easily cut in half.
One more time: don’t be discouraged if you don’t have access to fresh lavender sprigs because rosemary is also delicieux!