Monday, May 21, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

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Strawberry rhubarb jam
Strawberry rhubarb jam

Do you have recipes for canning that you just know you need to put into your 'pretty' jars?  You know, a recipe that will make a great hostess gift or holiday gift months from now so you use your jars that have a little bit of style to them to make them look extra special.  This is definitely one of those batches of jam so break out the cute jars.  I wanted to share a wonderful note I got after giving our neighbor some of this jam:

Michelle, Your jam is delicious! The tang under the sweetness makes me want to eat it with a spoon, forget the toast. I remembered the kugula (she used to call) my aunt used to make with rhubarb. She was German. They were a custard cream type coffee cake, sweet but the rhubarb gave that same tang. So good! Thank you for sharing although I did eat one more piece of toast than I should - but I didn’t eat it with the spoon even though I was tempted. Addictive! Kathe

That right there provides me with so much inspiration!  I hope it inspires you too.  You can do this jam making and canning stuff and the end results will make you and your family happy.  This recipe does span a day to make but don't let that put you off at all.  The first day of preparation is quick because you are leaving the strawberries mostly whole unless you have some really large berries, and the rhubarb dices up fast.  It is important though that you don't skip this first step in order to get the most flavor and juice from your fruit.  Take a look at the after pictures - all that liquid is the really good stuff.

Rhubarb after a night in sugar
Rhubarb after a night in sugar

Strawberries after a night in sugar
Strawberries after a night in sugar

Secret ingredient
Secret ingredient

My secret ingredient is 3 apples.  I use those to provide some natural pectin without changing the overall flavor.  It allows me to cook the jam a shorter time so that some of the strawberries keep their shape but still thickens enough to be called a jam.  I prefer this over using powdered or liquid pectin.  I find those give jam a texture that is too jello like for my tastes.

Jam slathered on a scone, yum!
Jam slathered on a scone, yum!

This jam is great on biscuits, pancakes, waffles, toast, cheese and crackers or straight from the jar.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
The first step you do the night before, but don't skip it. The final strawberry rhubarb jam is well worth the bit of extra effort.
  • 8 cups (about 3lbs) rhubarb, diced
  • 8 cups (about 3lbs) strawberries, whole with stem removed
  • 6 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 juice of a lemon
  • 3 apples, cored and cut into 8 sections with skin on

  1. The day before, clean and dice your rhubarb in a large bowl. Squeeze one lemon over the rhubarb and then toss it with 3 cups of the sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. The day before, clean and remove the tops of your strawberries. If you have some monster berries slice them in half, otherwise leave them whole and place them into a large bowl. Squeeze one lemon over the strawberries and then toss them with 3 cups of the sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next day prepare your half pint jars, lids, rings and canner. If you are new to water bath canning, or it has been a while, be sure to brush up from a reliable and official source to guide you through this process. The National Center for Home Food Preservation and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving are good places to start.
  4. In a non-reactive heavy bottom large pot add the syrup only from the rhubarb and strawberries. This will give you 5 or 6 cups of liquid. Add in the apple slices and bring to a simmer. Cook until the apples are fork tender, then transfer the apples and a cup of the hot liquid to a blender. Blend, very very carefully, until smooth. Pour the apple liquid back into your pot and add in the rhubarb and strawberries.
  5. Simmer the jam until it thickens, stirring often. This will scorch if you do not keep an eye on it especially towards the end of the cooking time. Depending on the size of your pot this will take anywhere from 30 - 45 minutes.
  6. On a small very cold plate (I chill mine in the freezer for a few minutes) add a teaspoon of the jam. Let it sit for a couple of minutes until the jam is chilled through. Run your finger through the bit of jam to see if it holds the shape of your streak and crinkles a little on top. If you need to, just keep simmering and stirring until you have the consistency you want.
  7. Carefully fill your hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Be sure to remove any bubbles with a thin spatula, chopstock, or skewer and adjust the headspace one last time.
  8. Clean the rim of the jar very thoroughly, apply your hot lid, and then the ring. You want to tighten your ring just until it is "finger tip tight", not too tight, but not loose either.
  9. Process your jars (half pint or pint) in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (10 minutes is measured after the water returns to a full boil). Adjust your processing time as necessary depending on your elevation. Again, consult a reputable source for instructions on how to do this.
  10. Remove your jars from the water bath to a cloth covered counter. Let them cool completely for 12-24 hours before testing the seals. Remove the outer ring and pick up the jar carefully by the lid to make sure the seal is a good one. If you do have a jar that did not seal, just put it in the refrigerator and eat the strawberry rhubarb jam.
  11. Store your jars in a cool dark place. This jam is ready to eat immediately, no wait time necessary.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 14 half pints or 7 pints

Last, but not least, if you are brand new to water bath canning be sure to follow best practices outlined by reliable sites such as the National Center for Home Food Preservation or the University of Missouri Extension. Home canning is something anyone can do!

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