How to Make Rhubarb Jam: A Beginner's Guide

I love jam, and I decided that this summer season, I would make rhubarb jam – for the first time. The garden in my new home came with a big patch of rhubarb, and honestly, I was a bit intimidated by it. I had never grown rhubarb in my life, so I was a complete beginner when it comes taking care of it and harvesting it. My only experience with making food with rhubarb was making a rhubarb pie with frozen rhubarb I purchased from a grocery story.

Making jam with rhubarb freshly harvested from my garden was such a fun experience. I’ll definitely be making more throughout the harvesting season enjoy and also to give to family and friends as gifts.

Here is everything I learned about making jars of rhubarb jam successfully. Happy canning!

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When is Rhubarb Ready to Pick?

I’ve learned that the rhubarb stalks could be harvested about 3 times per season, or approximately every four to five weeks. Rhubarb is in season from April to September in Canada, where I live.

Rhubarb comes in a variety of colours, ranging from red to green. The colour does not indicate its readiness to pick. The variety growing in my yard is red at the base, fading to green, for example. Before looking into it, I had assumed that I had to wait for the stalks to turn completely red, but nope, that is not the case. You can harvest the rhubarb stalks when they’re between 7 and 15 inches long.

What equipment do you need to make rhubarb jam?

I was completely new to canning, so I purchased this Starfrit 3 Piece Canning Set from Canadian Tire. It included a canning funnel, a jar lifter, and a lid lifter. This bundle is a Canadian Tire exclusive, but you can find similar on canning sets on Amazon as well. I did not end up using the lid lifter but the price of the funnel and jar lifter separately was similar to the set, so I figured I’d buy the set and have it on hand just in case.

To prepare the jars, I purchased a canning rack to place at the bottom of a large enamel pot that I already had on hand.

For the jars, I purchased a 12 pack of Bernardin 500ml wide mouth jars. If you don’t go through jam quickly, it would make sense to make smaller portions.

To cook the jam prior to canning, I used a large regular stock pot.

How to Prepare Simple Rhubarb Jam

I opted out of using pectin. For this method, all you need is rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, and orange juice.


  • 4 pounds of rhubarb, diced
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of orange juice
  • Optional: Red Gel food colouring, to colour preference.

Preparation Instructions

Step 1
Combine rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice and orange juice in a large stock pot.

Step 2
Bring to a rolling bowling over medium heat. Keep the pot at a low boil and stir occasionally, approximately 15 minutes.

Step 3
Remove from heat, and strain the juice from the mixture. Set the rhubarb aside, returning the strained juice to the stockpot. Continue cooking the juice until the temperature reaches 221°F or 105°C.

Step 4
Once the juice is at 221°F or 105°C, add the rhubarb back to the juice and return the mixture to a boil.

Step 5
Continue cooking until the mixture returns to 221°F or 105°C, then remove from heat. I added a bit of red food colouring, specifically Wilton’s Red Food Colouring, to improve the aesthetics of the jam. You may or may not want to add food colouring depending on how green your variety of rhubarb is.

You can enjoy right away or you can preserve the jam by canning it. Read on for canning tips!

How to Preserve the Rhubarb Jam

After sterilizing the jars, I added the jam to each jar, leaving approximately 1/4 inch of headspace at the top. I love how the markings on the Starfrit funnel made this so easy to determine.

I made two batches of the recipe above, and I was able to prepare six 500ml jars. So one batch should yield three 500ml jars.

After filling the jars, I made sure there was no excess on the outer rims of the jars, then added the lids and rings.

I brought the enamel pot to a boil, with the canning rack outfitted at the bottom. Next, I lowered the jars carefully into the boiling water, and boiled them for 15 minutes. I used the canning tongs to remove the jars then placed on a cookie cooling rack for least least 24 hours. Don’t touch the rings to test since that can compromise the seal.

I went through this process about four weeks ago, and my family of four has already gone through two full jars of jam. Preserved jam can be stored for up to a year. It looks like at this rate, I don’t have to worry about this jam spoiling. Our favourite way to enjoy the jam is on toasted crumpets.

What is your favourite way to enjoy rhubarb jam?

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