- Food & Drink
After the gin – and there has been a lot of gin recently – the crumpets. These are topped with butter (obviously) and rhubarb and star anise jam. It’s my brief attempt to trap the flavour of early spring in sugar and jar it.
I made the jam from some sturdy stalks of field rhubarb bought at Peckham’s Farmer’s Market. At least, I assume they were field rhubarb. They were thick and solid enough to be wielded as a weapon during a minor mugging and an outrageous shade of red. Practically indecent. Hardly the sort of thing to hide away in a darkened shed, growing gently and elegantly to fruition.
Rhubarb is a low pectin fruit/vegetable, so sitting it overnight in the lemon juice and sugar let’s the pectin from the lemon get into its stride before the whole mix hits the pan. 2 star anise is just enough to suggest that something spicy has gone into the jam, but you can’t quite work what it is. If you’d like it to be a bit more obvious, chuck another 1 in.
Rhubarb and star anise jam
Makes approximately 400g
250g rhubarb, trimmed
250g granulated sugar
The finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 star anise
Chop the rhubarb into small pieces, about 1–2 cm long. Place in a non-metallic bowl with the sugar and lemon zest and juice. Leave overnight to go syrupy. Stick a saucer in the freezer.
In the morning, place the rhubarb mix in a wide, shallow pan (preserving pan or deep frying pan will do) with the star anise and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook at a gentle boil for around 20–25 minutes or until setting point is reached – dollop a spoonful of jam onto the frozen saucer and leave it for a minute. Push your finger through the jam and if it wrinkles, the jam is ready.
Spoon into a sterlised jar, seal and store somewhere cool and dry.