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If you read my posts on Facebook, you may remember my epic quest for rosewater. I got a bee in my bonnet about making some rhubarb jam with rosewater and just couldn’t let it go; my primary influence was this syrup from 101 Cookbooks. Right? How beautiful, how interesting, and now I know, how tasty!

Rhubarb is quickly becoming my favorite jam ingredient. I struggle with overly sweet preserves and seem to always be changing ratios and substituting ingredients, just fussing with every recipe to make them fruitier-tasting and less syrupy sweet. The innate tartness of rhubarb added to jam has the magical effect of highlighting the sweetness of any fruit it’s paired with (I’ve now done strawberry, raspberry, cherry and pink grapefruit) while mitigating the sweetness of the sugar needed to properly set a jam. That is my opinion, not a scientific fact, but I’m sticking to it. I should say (again) that I am a huge fan of everything rhubarb and it doesn’t take much for me to gush on about how wonderful it is to work with and to eat.

My very favorite rhubarb jam stars crystallized ginger as a spicy-sweet contrast to the tart stalks. It is the most gorgeous rosy pink you have ever seen and it’s the one jam I make that I keep mostly for myself– I have been caught more than once with a jar of it and a spoon. This spring, I was determined to expand my rhubarb jam horizons and try new flavor combinations, starting with strawberry-rhubarb and these rhubarb rosewater preserves. To make the preserves, I used my rhubarb ginger jam recipe and replaced the ginger with rosewater, more or less. I chose not to use pectin because I like the saucy consistency; this is also the reason I am calling it preserves instead of jam. If you want a true jam, it should be very easy to adapt the recipe and use your pectin of choice. Rosewater adds a peppery, floral accent to the tart sweetness of the jam; it has a very complex flavor for such a short list of ingredients and tastes wonderful with goat cheese on a whole wheat English muffin, or as a mix-in with plain yogurt. I deliberately left the rosewater as an accent; I was nervous that it would overpower the rhubarb and become unpleasantly soapy. If you are accustomed to using rosewater in sweets and enjoy a strong rose flavor, you could easily add another tablespoon to the recipe.

Rhubarb Rosewater Preserves (makes about 5 half-pints)

  • 2 lbs. rhubarb, cut into 1/2 -1″ pieces
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 3 T. rosewater
  • pinch of salt

Day 1: Combine the rhubarb and sugar and mix well; cover and allow to macerate for at least 12 hours or overnight.

Day 2: Prepare your water bath and sterilize jars and lids for canning. In a Dutch oven or non-reactive stock pot, heat the rhubarb and sugar mixture with the lemon juice over high heat until you have a rolling boil. Lower the heat slightly and cook at a full boil, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 mins. Add the rosewater and salt and return to a rolling boil, cooking for 1 min. more. The preserves should be starting to gel, but will not set fully unless you have chosen to add pectin. Ladle your hot fruit into sterilized jars, wipe the jar rims, affix flat and screw lids and water bath process for 10 mins. Remove the hot jars from the water to a towel-line counter space and leave untouched for 24 hours. Check to see that the jars are sealed and refrigerate any that haven’t. These preserves should keep for up to a year.