Rhubarb came originally from chilly central Asia, and most northern European vegetable gardens, however small, have a clump of these cheerful pink stems crammed into a corner. Rhubarb is the first fruit to be ready in the spring (though technically it is classed as a vegetable). To be edible rhubarb needs lots of sugar, so it is good in jam or as filling for a tart. Oddly, rhubarb pairs well with ginger, another feisty flavor.

Makes 1 quart/1 liter of jam
3 lb/1.35 kg rhubarb
6 cups/1.2 kg sugar
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger root
5 tablespoons/90 g chopped candied ginger
Preserving pan or a large saucepan

1. Cut the rhubarb stalks into 1-in/2.5cm sticks and layer them in a bowl with the sugar. Cover and leave the rhubarb overnight to macerate.

2. Transfer the fruit to the preserving pan and stir in the chopped fresh gingerroot and candied ginger. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb softens to a pulp expressing its pink color as the sugar dissolves, 7-10 minutes. Bring to a boil and cook the jam to the jell point, 20-30 minutes. The temperature should measure 106˚C/220˚F on a candy thermometer, and the jam should set if you drop a little on a chilled plate.

3. Let the jam cool for 5-10 minutes, then ladle it into sterilized jars and seal them. Keep the jam jars in a cool dry place and refrigerate once opened.