Rhubarb Ice Cream • Rhubarb Jam


The trouble with homemade ice cream, in my experience at least, is its half-life: what tastes smooth and creamy, light and airy on day one, becomes icy and hard, choppy and crystalized on day two. The texture after a day in the freezer just doesn’t compare to the best store-bought varieties.

So when I tried Jeni’s Splendid ice cream recipe for the first time a few weeks ago, what struck me more than the flavor — dark chocolate heightened by coffee — was the texture: dense and creamy, almost chewy, a consistency that persisted for days. Jeni’s ice cream scoops as well as the big dogs even after a week in the freezer.

For those unfamiliar with Jeni, let me fill you in: Jeni Bauer opened Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in 2002 in Columbus, Ohio, and her company now operates nine shops in Ohio and one in Tennessee. In her book, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, Jeni shares her ice cream base recipe, which can be transformed however your heart desires. So far, I’ve made the darkest chocolate ice cream in the world, a recipe from Jeni’s book, and this rhubarb ice cream, a combination of Jeni’s base and a vanilla-bean flecked rhubarb jam, which I only wish I could can by the barrel-full before rhubarb season passes.

Made without water or pectin, this jam comes together in about 25 minutes. It is spring preserved in a jar, and I only fear it might distract you from making this most-delicious, subtle and springy rhubarb ice cream. It will take utmost discipline to stay on course, to not be lured by visions of homemade bread and toasted English muffins and buttermilk currant scones. One bite of this brilliant magenta-hued jam, and I worry all ice cream-making aspirations will melt away. And I can’t blame you. Just know that if you do get around to making the ice cream, you will go to sleep happy and wake dreaming of new ice cream flavors — toasted coconut, buttermilk almond, salted caramel come to mind. Sweet dreams, Everyone, and happy almost weekend.









Ingredients for Jeni’s Splendid base recipe:

Rhubarb purée and ice cream base:



OK, as I noted above, I love this jam, and what would make me so happy is if you decided to make both the jam and the ice cream. Soooo, if you’re planning on visiting a farmers’ market this weekend, maybe consider picking up a few pounds of rhubarb? I promise it will be worth it. If you are feeling very motivated, your weekend cooking experiments will take no time if you start by making Jeni’s Splendid ice cream base today or tomorrow — you might have all of the ingredients on hand.

Rhubarb Ice Cream

Base recipe: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home
Source: Saveur via Megabite and Food52

Rhubarb Purée: Adapted from Chef de Cuisine

Note: I know many of you will not like the seeing corn syrup in the ingredient list. I am not crazy about it myself, but I recommend using it if this is your first time making the base so you can get a sense of the ice cream’s consistency. Next time I make the base, I might replace the corn syrup with brown rice syrup, an ingredient I have had success with in my extra chewy granola bars.

2 cups milk
4 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3 tbsp. (1.5 oz) cream cheese, softened

1 recipe rhubarb jam (see below)

1. In a bowl, stir together 1/4 cup milk and the cornstarch; set slurry aside.

2. In a 4-qt. saucepan, whisk together remaining milk and the cream, sugar, syrup, and salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 4 minutes; stir in slurry. Return to a boil and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes.

3. Place cream cheese in a large bowl and pour in 1/4 cup hot milk mixture; whisk until smooth. Then whisk in remaining milk mixture. Pour mixture into a plastic bag; seal, and submerge in a bowl of ice water until chilled. (I don’t do this step. I just pour the mixture into a large liquid measuring cup and store it in the fridge until I’m ready to use it.)

4. Purée rhubarb jam in a food processor or blender. (I know this is an annoying extra step, but I think it’s important for the rhubarb purée to be nice and smooth. Also, if you quickly give your processor or blender a rinsy rinse right after you purée it, it’s as if it never happened. Go on, be quick now.) Whisk rhubarb purée and Jeni’s Splendid ice cream base together in a large bowl until nicely blended. Because the combination of Jeni’s Base and the rhubarb jam yields a large quantity, I suggest churning only half of the mixture at a time: pour half of the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer ice cream to a storage container and freeze until set, at least 4 hours.

5. Let ice cream stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before scooping and serving.

Rhubarb Jam
Adapted from Chef de Cuisine

about a pound of rhubarb*, to yield about 3 1/2 to 4 cups once chopped
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean

*If you start with a pound of rhubarb, by the time you trim the ends, you will have (shockingly) less than a pound of rhubarb, which will yield closer to 3 cups of chopped rhubarb. If you start with more like a pound and a half or a pound and a quarter of rhubarb, the yield once chopped will be closer to 4 cups. I have made the jam both ways and prefer it on the less sweet side — 1lb. 6 oz of rhubarb untrimmed left me with 4 cups of chopped rhubarb. You can always add more sugar about halfway through the cooking process if you find the jam to be too tart, but I doubt you will.

1. Wash rhubarb. Trim ends. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Place rhubarb in a saucepan with sugar. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the caviar with a paring knife. Place caviar and remaining pod in pan with rhubarb and sugar. Cover pan, place over medium heat and cook until the mixture is bubbling and the rhubarb has released a significant amount of its juices, about 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Uncover the pan, give the mixture a stir, and continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is thick and jam-like in consistency, another 10 or 15 minutes. Stir frequently and use a spatula or spoon to breakdown any big pieces of rhubarb. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to a jar and store in the fridge for at least a week.

I’m not trying to distact you from making ice cream, but if you get around to making both the jam and the ice cream, you may as well bake up a couple loaves of peasant bread:




  1. says

    Yes! A combination of two of my favorite things – rhubarb and ice cream. Thank you, Ali! Can’t wait to make this next week.

    • says

      Alicia — I’ll have to check out your recipe! My friend Darcy made a most-delectable looking coffee ice cream using condensed milk — it was a Nigella Lawson recipe. I’ve been dying to make it ever since.

  2. says

    I also use Jeni’s ice cream recipe and am very pleased with the results! The Rhubarb Ice Cream is such a lovely pale pink, an impeccable spring treat!

  3. Liz says

    I believe your readers should check out this link. Karo corn syrup is not the same as high fructose corn syrup. The Karo really does contribute to a very creamy, smooth ice cream resistant to the formation of ice crystals. I made the rhubarb ice cream and it is delicious. I stored some of it in one freezer set at a very cold temperature and one set at a lower temperature. Even the ice cream in the very cold freezer maintained a nice texture when it softened. I still might choose to serve it to company the same day it was made, but letting it rest in the freezer for a few hours before serving makes the best texture,even better than right after you stop churning. I transferred the ice cream into shallow glass storage dishes and put the dishes in a bowl of ice cubes, then in the freezer. Maybe an unnecessary step but I think it kept the ice cream from melting and refreezing. Excellent and delicate flavor!


    • says

      Liz — thanks for this! I should make a note, and I think have in a separate post, but yes, high fructose corn syrup is a different than Karo syrup, and while I do try to avoid using Karo anyway, I think a little bit in moderation is just fine.

  4. says

    Looks delicious.. We have been unfortunate not to have ever tried rhubarb.. We cant find it in grocery stores or farmers markets and its not on any menu here in Miami… Well keep our hopes up and keep looking. One day we will get lucky.

  5. says

    I’m so sold on this! My husband adores rhubarb… and I haven’t cooked him any yet this Spring! Wow, this ice cream base sounds amazing, too. I’m regretting the batch of homemade ice cream I made this week — too brittle and icy. I’m willing to suffer through a couple tablespoons of corn syrup for the right consistency :) Thanks for sharing!

  6. says

    Having read this I thought it was extremely enlightening.
    I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this
    informative article together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and posting
    comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  7. says

    TWO recipes in one! I was wondering what to do with all that pretty rhubarb that I see in the stores… Oh and I have a suggestion about home made ice cream: eat it all on day one! 😉
    ps: Hello from the Netherlands!

  8. says

    Holy Moly, I cannot get my hands on some vanilla beans and rhubarb fast enough (my neighbor is kind enough to grow one behind her fence just for us to use! :) How would I make this into a processed jam with a shelf-life? Just add pectin?

    • says

      Michelle, I know, the jam is SO good. Truthfully, I haven’t ever made jam with pectin. And I’m not sure pectin necessarily helps with shelf-life — I know it helps with thickening. I think if you want to preserve the jam for an extended period of time, you would have to do the jar sterilization and canning process. I’ve done this before, and it’s kind of a process, but it’s also fun, too. You might be able to skip the canning process and just freeze the jam? I followed the canning instructions here: homecanning.com

  9. Kara Chmielewski says

    I was wondering if I could substitute vanilla extract for the vanilla bean? If anybody has tried it or knows the answer please help….It looks so delicious!!

  10. cm says

    This is making me think I need to get an ice cream maker. I have always put them in the same category as bread makers…appliances that I’d never or rarely use and would eventually go into the basement (as my small kitchen cannot hold them). This is making me re-think that notion. Anyone have a good ice cream maker they’d recommend??

  11. says

    I love your photos and recipes when I’m looking for something creative, different and new for all my foodie friends. One of my all-time simplest recipes from you is the Parma di Salsa–fantastic!!!

  12. cm says

    I do have a KitchenAid (stored in the basement and comes up when I need it…alas I wish I had the counter pace to have it up all the time). I’ll look into that attachment! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *