This is simply rhubarb jam with half the rhubarb replaced with Alexanders. If you want the stems to keep their shape during cooking it is necessary to place them in sugar for a few hours first. If you omit this stage the result is likely to be Alexanders stems suspended in a clear pink jelly rather pleasing I think. The flavour of Alexanders, so powerful in the raw plant, soon dissipates with cooking. To replace it I often add a muslin bag of Alexanders seeds (or, at a pinch, leaves) for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
- Yield: 4 x 340g jars
- 500 g Alexanders young and thick stems are best
- 500 g rhubarb, tough stems trimmed
- 900 g jam sugar with added pectin
- 1 tbsp Alexanders seeds or a handful of leaves (optional)
- If your Alexanders are anything other than the most tender of plump, young stems, peel off any stringy outsides, rather as you would with celery. Cut the stems into chunks of about 2 cm. Cut the rhubarb into similar-sized pieces too.
- Put the Alexanders stems into a steamer over boiling water. Cover and steam for 10 minutes.
- Scatter a layer of sugar over the bottom of your preserving pan and add a layer of rhubarb and Alexanders. Repeat, continuing until all of the sugar, rhubarb and Alexanders are used up. Pour 100 ml water over the surface, then cover and leave for an hour or two at least, or overnight.
- If you do not have a preserving thermometer, put a saucer into the freezer to chill (ready to test for setting). Gently bring the pan of rhubarb and Alexanders to the boil, stirring carefully to ensure you don’t break up the stems. Boil rapidly for 5–6 minutes then, if you wish to boost the flavour, add a muslin bag of Alexanders seeds or leaves. Cook for another 2 minutes until setting point is reached, i.e. 104.5°C. To test for a set if you do not have a thermometer, drop a little of the mixture on to your chilled saucer and push with your finger; if the jam wrinkles it is ready.
- Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes this ensures all of the fruit won’t rise to the top of the jars. Pour the jam into warm, sterilised jars, then cover and seal in the usual way.