A week ago my fridge was full to the brim with strawberries and rhubarb. I put out the call on facebook - what would you make? And, I was shocked to see how many people said jam! We must be friends.
So that settled it in my mind, the first thing I was going to make was jam. When I went on my search for the winning recipe I had some criteria in mind. 1) I didn’t want to use commercial pectin. I prefer a looser and more natural set to my jam and I find that the pectin makes it too stodgy for me so I generally try to stay away from it. 2) Less sugar. Seriously, so many jam recipes have a ridiculous amount of sugar in them. I understand that it helps with preservation and with set, but when recipes are calling for 10 cups of sugar and only 8 cups of fruit, that’s a
little lot overboard for me. 3) I wanted it to be fresh tasting. Which is a big reason why I wanted less sugar, because it can give the jam more of a candy flavour and hinder the freshness of the fruit from shining through.
When I found this recipe I knew it was the one to try. There’s no pectin and it has a fraction of the sugar compared to the other recipes I came across. But, the biggest thing that caught my eye and sealed the deal was the way it was cooked down. You start by cooking the fruit just enough to release the juices, then you strain the fruit, set it aside and then cook the juices until reduced by half. After that, you return the fruit to the pot and cook it until the jam is set to your liking. The reason I love this is because the fruit is cooked less, preserving more of a fresh flavour. Bingo! All criteria check marked!
This particular recipe is heavier on the rhubarb. This means that the rhubarb flavour really shines and the strawberry helps to sweeten it up and round it out. It has clean, crisp flavours and is just the recipe I needed to kick off the spring canning season. I already know that I’ll be making a double batch yet, before spring is through, because we are inhaling this stuff pretty quickly. And, we’re using it in so many yummy things. Which reminds me, make sure to whip up a batch soon because I have a delicious treat to share with you soon that uses this jam as it’s star ingredient!
P.S. If you’re not up to canning this recipe you don’t have to miss out. Just freeze it instead!
New to canning? Freeze this recipe instead, or read up on the process in my canning basics post.
- 2 lbs fresh rhubarb cut into ½-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
- 1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and diced (about 3 cups)
- ½ cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- Place rhubarb, strawberries, water and sugar in a medium-sized pot set over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the juices are released and begin to cover the fruit. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to separate the fruit from the juices. Set the fruit aside. Return the the juices to the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow to cook, stirring frequently, until reduced by approximately half (an easy way to check this is to use the handle of a wooden spoon. Dip it into the liquid to “stain” it. Then use that as a measuring guide for how much it’s cooking down). Skim off any foam that rises to the surface, as you go. Add the fruit back to the pot, along with any accumulated juices. Stir in lemon juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until a spoonful of the mixture mounds on a frozen plate without spreading. Once ready, you can pack it into jars, or tupperware, and freeze. Or, follow the process below for canning.
- While jam is cooking, sterilize 5, ½ pint jars along with lids, as instructed in the canning basics post*. Fill the jars to within ¼ inch of the top with jam; wipe the rims, top with lids and tighten rings to fingertip tight. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes (see: “things you need to know” in the canning basics post for processing times above 1000 feet). Remove jars from water bath and set on a kitchen towel to cool for 24 hours. Check for seals before storing in a cool, dark place until ready to use.
*Here is the canning basics post, in which you will also find the “things you need to know”.