[Photograph: Lucy Baker]

It always seems like rhubarb season is over as soon as it starts. The thick, fat stalks that were at my market just a few weeks ago have dwindled down to a few spindly stems. Before they disappeared entirely, I wanted to make one last batch of jam that put rhubarb in the front seat and really showcased its tart flavor.

This recipe combines rhubarb with chopped orange peels, fresh orange juice, and the seeds of a vanilla bean. The results taste a bit like rhubarb pie shot through with orange marmalade. A lot of times I feel like rhubarb plays second fiddle in recipes to strawberries or raspberries. But here it is decidedly in the forefront, its sunny flavor complimented by just a hint of bitter citrus and sweet vanilla.

20110615-156478-rhubarb-orange-vanilla-jam-2.jpgBecause this jam cooks very quickly, it is important to finely chop the rhubarb and the orange peel to ensure they have time to soften. I split my rhubarb in half lengthwise and then cut it crosswise into 1/4-inch dice. I cut the orange peel even a bit smaller. Alternatively, you could give them both a few pulses in the food processor.

The sweet-tart flavor of this jam would complement any dark baked goods like gingerbread or spice cake. I think it would also go well with crusty sourdough with nothing more than a bit of salted butter.

See the recipe ยป


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