rhubarb and rose jam


At the beginning of May, I definitely wouldn’t have considered making jam. All that sunshine made me want to spend any spare moments outside. Planting fruit, not cooking it in the kitchen.

Now everything is so lush, the rhubarb is really flourishing and I can see sweet cicely with its pretty cream flowers from the kitchen table.


But it’s very cold and rainy. So instead of dusk gardening, evening jam making beckons.

Popping out to the garden to gather fruit and herbs, an abundance of mud and cooking are a dangerous combination I find. Once I’m outside there are always a few bits and pieces that I notice need attention and I’m easily distracted. But I’d planned to cook and hadn’t exactly dressed for gardening.

One evening there was a cold-frame avalanche. Shoddy placing of the top shelf (by me of course) meant that it suddenly collapsed. Of course it was crammed full of pots of seedlings, which all landed on top of the poor courgettes and Mother Hubbard squash plants sitting below. I’d only popped out for a minute of watering the pots inside. An hour later, I arrived back in the kitchen, having re-potted as many undamaged plants as possible. Thankfully there weren’t too many plant casualties, just very muddy arms for me.

Looking back at pictures of Ruby gardening, I think she may take after her Mum in her insistence that there’s no need to change, one outfit suits everything:

Jubilee 3

This was taken after a Jubilee street party last year (you may spot the face-painting) – we’d returned home and were checking the potatoes! Ruby’s pretty dress soon became very muddy.  I don’t exactly have an extensive wardrobe but I do like to wear and enjoy my favourite clothes too. Skirts and dresses are happily intermingled with my scruffy jeans. Often worn with these of course:


So after my very lovely girly excursion to the village hall vintage tea party, I may have been tempted to browse these (totally out of my price range!) Brora Liberty Print and  tea dresses. But even if I had cash to spare, I know I’d end up cooking in them, pop out to pick a few herbs and water the cold frame a little before turning the compost heap.

Perhaps these great Howies organic t-shirts (I love the fact that they’re called ‘Go Wild’ and in violet) may be more practical. And I’ll have a feminine fix from these very pink drinks and preserves.


The gloriously pink bottles are rhubarb cordial, made from the Jamie Oliver recipe here. It’s a very refreshing (and pretty!) drink diluted with sparkling water or just tap water. And I think it’ll make a fabulously summery drink added to Prosecco once we have warm evenings again.


The rhubarb and rose jam (I know, at last I’ve got to the point!) is adapted from Diana Henry’s Salt, Sugar, Smoke. Rhubarb, rose and cardamom jam is one of the many jewel-coloured inspiring preserve recipes in this very lovely book.  I will make the original recipe too very soon. But much as I love cardamom, I thought Ruby (who I’m hoping will like this fragrant pink jam with stove-top rice pudding and porridge) would prefer a version without. And besides, this is the first year I’ve had Sweet Cicely thriving in the garden. I’ve read so much about how brilliant it is paired with rhubarb and wanted to try a rhubarb/sweet cicely combination.


 I made this jam twice – first, using jam sugar with added pectin as in Diana Henry’s version. This produced a jam that set easily, but I wanted a runnier jam, so tried it made just with granulated sugar. I prefer this version, and will even try it again with less sugar – especially as Sweet Cicely is well known as a herb which reduces the acidity of tart fruit. It wouldn’t last as long and would need to be kept in the fridge, but as I have so many uses in mind, including scones, Victoria Sandwich cakes with mascarpone and just spread on good toasted sourdough, I don’t think that will be a problem.


Rhubarb and rose jam with sweet cicely

1 kg rhubarb (untrimmed weight)

900g granulated sugar

juice of 1 lemon

a few sweet cicely leaves

100ml apple juice

1 dessert spoon rose water

Trim and wash the rhubarb, cutting into short lengths. Toss with the sugar in a preserving pan and pour over the lemon juice and apple juice. Cover and leave overnight, or at least for a few hours to draw out the juices from the rhubarb.

Add the sweet cicely to the rhubarb. Slowly bring the contents of the pan to the boil so that the sugar dissolves, then boil rapidly until you reach setting point. I found this only took a few minutes, but then I’m prepared to have runny jam dribbling over the sides of my scones.

Remove from the heat, remove the sweet cicely and add the rose water. Return to heat and bring to boil again quickly. Remove from heat, tasting and adding a little more lemon juice or rose water (although remember you’re after a lovely fragrant jam, not creating perfume) to taste. Put in warm, sterilized jars and seal.

If it lasts that long, it’ll be lovely when the roses are blooming to decorate little bowls of rice pud or cakes that include this preserve, with petals. In the meantime, I’ll make do with violets.



This is a sponsored post, but as usual all rambling opinions are my own.




13 thoughts on “rhubarb and rose jam

  1. I have to confess that I never eat jam, but the combination of rose and rhubarb does sound lovely :-)

  2. It is a delicious combination – I think the idea of it tempts as much as the actual taste to be honest. It sounds so summery and English garden meets Arabian nights doesn’t it.

  3. Love the Tea dress… want, want, want it 😉 You would look fab in that too!
    I’ve just come back inside from some ground elder digging in my work trousers. Ooops…

    • Thank you! And well done, must admit I’ve stayed in by the woodburner this evening, what a shirker. Ground elder is so pesky isn’t it – but you know you can eat your enemy & make pesto from it?

      • That’s funny. Just had the conversation with my mum and she told me all about Girsch as it’s known in German. We did talk about pesto and other things you can cook with it to get your revenge!

  4. The idea of making jam is very appealing at the moment – anything to keep warm is good really! And there’s rhubarb and sweet cicely in the garden, just waiting to be turned into jam…

    • It’s crazy that the last week has felt like jam-making weather isn’t it. Interested to hear how you get on with rhubarb and sweet cicely, I need to experiment with them in more puds.

  5. The saucer with a spoonful of jam takes me back to when my Mum used to make it. So interesting about the combination of sweet cicely with acid fruit.

    • To be honest I resorted to the saucer method as my jam thermometer has seen better days and the numbers finally wore off! I need to experiment with sweet cicely and lots of fruit puds too – gooseberries maybe soon?

  6. Jam making already! And what a gorgeous combination of rhubarb, rose and cicely. And I now have a craving for some scones (plural) with a generous dollop or two of rhubarb jam! Sadly used the rest of my rhubarb (for now anyway) in some muffins yesterday. Eh well.

    • Glad that I got the jam made as the sun’s now shining and it’s definitely a day to get out in the garden planting. Your rhubarb muffins sound scrummy too.

  7. I’ve never heard of cicely before – sounds interesting. Thankyou for the link to the rhubarb cordial recipe – I will definitely try that for my rhubarb obsessed 6 year old. She would enjoy your jam too I reckon.

    • Great to have a rhubarb obsessed 6 year old! Is rhubarb ice cream popular too? Sweet cicely seems easy to grow, likes semi-shade, looks pretty and I think is going to be really useful with tart fruit.


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