23. May 2023

My foolproof rhubarb and vanilla jam recipe

Close up of fresh rhubarb on local country farmers market

This rhubarb and vanilla jam is childsplay to make AND delicious – what more do you want?


I have been making jam now for about 10 years. I’ve done strawberry and ginger, apricot, raspberry and plum’n’rum. Once, in a fit of nostalgia for my dear late grandpa, I even made a citrus marmalade. All crowned with more or less success.

Different fruits contain more or less pectin, and how much they naturally contain will determine whether you need to add more to achieve a nicely set jam. Consider this question carefully before you even set foot in the kitchen, as it will determine whether you complete your jam-making session feeling like a domestic goddess (or god!) or a failure on all fronts. I’ve ended up with jams that were more like syrups – while others were so solid that they had to be sliced.

Yes, jam-making can be a bit of a nerve-wracking undertaking. But one jam works perfectly for me every single year: rhubarb and vanilla. The zing of spring fruit meets the decadence of vanilla, it’s simply delicious spread with butter on a baguette or with cream on a scone.

Here’s my tried-and-tested rhubarb and vanilla jam recipe for you:

Makes 4/5 medium-sized jars of jam


  • 1kg of rhubarb, washed and sliced into 3cm chunks
  • 1kg jam sugar (or 1kg white sugar with enough pectin for this weight of sugar added)
  • The scrapings from two vanilla pods OR 2 tbsp vanilla essence from the Vanilla Campaign
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  • Place two small plates in the freezer
  • Put chopped rhubarb in a large saucepan with the sugar, pectin, and the vanilla pods/essence.
  • Heat until all the sugar has dissolved, then add the lemon juice.
  • Turn up the heat and boil for 10 minutes, skimming the foam/scum off the top.
  • After 10 minutes, the fruit should already be soft. If the fruit pieces separate out into their fibres when you press on them lightly with a wooden spoon, they are ready.
  • Test for setting point by putting a teaspoon of the hot jam mixture on one of the plates from the freezer and putting the plate into the fridge for 2 minutes.
  • If the jam spot wrinkles or shows resistance when you press it lightly with your finger, the jam is ready. If not, keep performing the test at two-minute intervals until setting point is reached.
  • When the jam is ready, pour it into sterilised jars and seal.

two jars of rhubarb and vanilla jam against a white background
Absolutely delicious!

Kept in a cool, dark place, this rhubarb and vanilla jam will keep for around 6 months. Don’t worry if the jam darkens in colour – there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just ageing elegantly!


If you like jams, check out this pectin-free recipe for apricot jam, – or this one for tipsy spicy plum jam!

Besides jams, I also like to make syrups with whatever is going in nature in the current season. Here’s my recipe for simple lilac syrup, an elegant spring addition to wine spritzers and sodas. Later on in the year, it’s time for rosehip syrup – tasty and packed with vitamin C to help keep you healthy during the long winter months.


Featured photo: Svetlana_Lazhko on Envato Elements

Photo of jam: Katharine Eyre © 2023