When we moved all our possessions into boxes and suitcases a few weeks ago and decamped to my Mum’s (so the builders could take our house apart and, hopefully, put it back together to be much better) I brought a gigantic box of tins and jars.
When I say gigantic, I mean gigantic. It took two grown men to lift the thing into the van.
It seemed crazy to put all our bits and pieces from the larder into storage, so we thought we’d bring them with us, but I knew my Mum was never going to be crazy keen on the idea of finding space in her cupboards for my collection of random tinned foods that I bought two years ago on a whim and have never used.
So I promised myself (and her) that I would use everything up as quickly as possible.
Top of the list were two tins of rhubarb, purchased when I was last pregnant with the idea it might prevent me scarfing down the treacle pudding and never since touched. I love fresh rhubarb, but this tinned stuff just never quite appealed…
Then, in a rather pleasing moment of synchronicity, browsing the local Oxfam bookshop in Marlow yesterday (a veritable treasure trove, well worth a visit if any reader is close enough to make one) I came across a book all about growing vegetables, for the princely sum of £1.99. I purchased it, thinking it would be helpful for my revision for my horticulture exams coming up in February, and it was only once I’d got it home that I discovered the delights of a small recipe section in the very back.
And one of the very first recipes to catch my eye was, wait for it, carrot and rhubarb jam. Yes, you read that right, jam. Not chutney.
My interest inevitably piqued (carrot jam? Surely not? But then again carrot cake is pretty damn tasty) and the rhubarb tins crying out to be used, I set about attempting a version of my own.
The original recipe had only three ingredients (carrots, rhubarb and sugar) and those in vast quantities, so I tweaked the amounts, added some spices and, a mere hour after commencing the process, had four jars of this rather wonderful concoction.
The thing that surprised me the most is that it tastes like the perfect jam for Christmas. It’s got a good spiced flavor, not unlike mincemeat in fact, but with a real freshness of taste at the same time. I had some on bread this morning and it was really delicious, but I think you could also use it as a compote for porridge or yoghurt, or even in the place of a more traditional rhubarb chutney, alongside some cold meat or cheese.
Because the jam has very little pectin in, it hasn’t set, so much as thickened, and it isn’t something you could store for a long time. The original recipe says three weeks in the fridge.
But if you used a jam sugar with added pectin, you’d achieve a more jelly-like consistency and would be able to store it for much longer.
I also used brown sugar, because that’s what I had to hand in the right quantities, but of course that has made my jam turn a rather brown colour. If you used granulated (or jam) sugar you’d maintain the orangey-pink of the rhubarb and carrots, which would look a little more toothsome.
Anyway, alterations aside, here is my recipe. Make up a batch this weekend and I promise you’ll feel Christmassy every breakfast right up until December 25th…
- 500g tinned rhubarb, strained (two large tins)
- 500g carrots (peeled weight), peeled and roughly chopped
- 500g sugar (I used soft dark brown, but I think a white sugar would look nicer)
- 5 cardamom seeds
- 1 orange, zest and juice
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled
- half a nutmeg
What to do:
1. Put the chopped carrots into a large saucepan and add the piece of ginger, the cardamom pods (bruised to release the flavours) and the juice of the orange.
2. Bring to the boil and simmer until the carrots are really soft
3. Strain the carrots, discarding the spices but reserving 125ml of the cooking water.
4. Return carrots to pan and mash them. (You could also blend or liquidise, but I always like the route that involves the least washing up at the end…)
5. Add the reserved cooking juice, the zest of the orange and grate in approximately half a nutmeg.
6. Cook for about 20-30 minutes until the jam starts to thicken. This isn’t a jam that is going to take on a traditional “set” so there’s little science involved, just stop cooking it when you think the consistency looks appealing.
7. Decant into sterilised jars (either run them through the dishwasher or wash in hot soapy water and then leave in the oven at about 100 degrees for ten minutes or so) and add the lids. Voila! Christmas in a jar!
And do let me know what you think of it if you have a go at this recipe.
Now, I just need to figure out what I could make with those 25 tins of sliced peaches.
PS What do you think of my photos for this post? I’ve been taking part in a Blogging Your Way course, from decor8, and this week we had to try and take some styled photos. It is not something that comes naturally to me (in fact, I shy away from putting food posts up here on the blog as I find it such an absolute bitch trying to take good photos of food, which always need to have excellent styling to look nice) and I can already see loads of errors in the pictures here, but, hey, it’s not a bad start I think.
I’m a real fan of making jams, chutneys and cordials. If you share my passion, take a look at some of these other recipes: