My Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Jelly is a rosy sweet/tart rhubarb jelly flecked with vanilla bean seeds that turns morning toast or a pb&j sandwich into a gourmet treat. Be sure to stash some away for holiday gifts!
Jelly making is one of my most favorite things to do in the kitchen. I never get tired of the magical transformation of fresh juice into a sparkling jelly. Part of the fun is dreaming up new recipes since almost any fruit or vegetable can be jellied, and it’s especially satisfying when things turn out vibrant and bursting with flavor like this one. Rhubarb is ideal for jelly making because it has a super tart flavor to begin with and can handle all the extra sugar.
What you’ll need to make rhubarb jelly
- fresh rhubarb stalks
- a high speed blender like Vitamix, or a food processor
- a muslin jelly or nut milk bag. If you like to make jellies it pays to get an inexpensive jelly strainer, pictured below to make the process easy and hands free.
- A large saucepan, stainless steel is best.
- If you want to can your jelly you’ll need a water bath canner or a deep cooking pot with a rack that fits in the bottom. Be sure the pot has a close-fitting lid. Alternatively you can skip the canning and freeze your jelly for longer storage.
If you’ve got rhubarb growing in your yard this is an ideal project. Rhubarb has a relatively short season, and it’s not available in stores during the rest of the year, so preserving it makes sense. These pretty jars of rhubarb jelly would make beautiful and unexpected gifts for the holidays down the road.
I love to fill small Weck canning jars with this jelly, they make beautiful little holiday or host gifts, and the jar is just as pretty as the jelly!
Rhubarb comes in many shades, from palest green to deep crimson. Your jelly will vary in color depending on your rhubarb, but it will definitely be pretty in any event 🙂 The vanilla beans add a subtle depth to the flavor.
This could make the best pb& j sandwich of your life! Actually I made mine an almond butter and rhubarb jelly sandwich, even better 🙂
As a general rule, jellies are quite sweet, because sugar helps the pectin set. If you’d like a less sweet result, you’ll need to experiment using a pectin made for low or no sugar recipes, which I often use for some of my other jams and jellies. Note: it’s advised that you freeze or refrigerate recipes that you develop for yourself. If you want to can, always use recipes from reputable sources. See the notes on sugar and canning below.
Jelly making basics ~
- Jelly is made by cooking fruit juice with sugar, and adding pectin.
- Pectin is added to create the gelled consistency.
- Sugar also helps the gelling process.
- If you’re planning to can your jelly it’s important to follow a trusted recipe exactly, any changes can affect the safety of the finished product.
- If you’d like to play with a recipe, consider making a small batch and keeping it in the refrigerator or freezing it for longer storage.
How to can jellies
- To can your homemade jelly, ladle or pour the boiling liquid directly into your hot sterilized canning jars, and be sure to leave 1/4 free space at the top. Wipe down the rims of the jars, and close up your jars securely but not super tightly.
- Place on a rack in a canner filled with boiling water. The water should cover the jars by at least one inch. Cover the canner.
- Bring the water back to a boil; boil gently for the number of minutes specified in your recipe. Add 1 minute of processing and sterilizing time for each 1000 feet of additional altitude.
- Remove the jars to a protected surface and cool, away from drafts, undisturbed for 12 hours.
About sugar and canning ~
- This recipe contains a lot of sugar, although it’s not sweeter than other jellies I’ve had. I used a classic, tried and true recipe because when it comes to canning, it’s not advisable to play around with proportions if you want to have a safe product.
- However there has been new research that proves that sugar does not play a role in canning safety, as has been previously believed.
- Sugar does play a roll in helping a jam or jelly ‘gel’, so if you want to reduce the sugar you’ll need to use a “no or low sugar’ pectin, like this one. I’ve used this for many of my lower sugar recipes and it works great. Note that you should not try to develop your own canning recipe for safety reasons. If you want to play, plan to refrigerate or freeze your recipes.
Reader Rave ~
“Thanks for a beautiful rhubarb recipe! I just wanted you to know that I made this for my local county fair & it won BOTH 1st place and Best of Show! It is delicious!” ~ Melissa
*recipe slightly adapted from Taste of Home
Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Jelly
- 2 and 1/2 pounds rhubarb washed, trimmed, and sliced
- 1/2 cup water
- 7 cups granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- 2 pouches 3 ounces each of liquid pectin
- Puree the rhubarb in your Vitamix blender or food processor, along with the water to get it started. You may need to do this in 2 batches.
- Put the rhubarb puree into a clean jelly or nut bag, and let it hang over a large bowl to allow the juice to drip out. Don't press or squeeze the bag aggressively or the pulp may come through and this will make your jelly cloudy. I do squeeze it a little bit, though, to move it along. It can help to have a jelly strainer, which is made for this purpose. You want to end up with 3 1/2 cups liquid.
- Put the rhubarb juice in a large stainless steel pot or saucepan. Stir in the sugar, the lemon juice, and the vanilla bean seeds. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring almost constantly.
- Once the mixture has reached a full rolling boil, let it fully boil for 3 minutes. It may foam up so stay right by it. Stirring is ok.
- After 3 minutes, stir in the pectin, and bring it back to a full, rolling boil. Boil 1 minute. Again it may foam up so be careful.
- Take the jelly off the heat and skim off any foam that is on the surface. Fill your sterilized jars to within 1/4 inch of the top.
If you care canning
- Wipe down the rims of the jars to remove any spilled jelly, then attach the lids and screw them, but don't over-tighten.
- Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
If you aren't canning
- Let cool and then cap and refrigerate.
notes and variations
If you want to use powdered pectin ~
- Use 4 tablespoons of powdered pectin in place of the 2 pouches of liquid. Instead of adding the pectin at the end, you can whisk the powdered pectin into the sugar before you combine it with the juice.
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