Seeing how I knew my steamy love affair with strawberries simply wouldn’t last forever, I decided that jam would be a fantastic way to prepare myself for strawberries and I going our separate ways for the season. So to commemorate the tapering off of the winter strawberry harvest in Florida and to indulge my newly discovered pension for rhubarb, I made Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.
This was my first ever jam-session ( *rimshot* ), so I approached with just about as much irrational fear as my first preserving experience. Something about saving fresh produce for many months to come just has me worrying that I’ll screw something up and give myself botulism or some other happy malady. But if you’re reading this, I’m still here, alive and well, so phew! 😛
In addition to not wanting to let the strawberry season go, I also go through jars and jars of store-bought strawberry jam (I love peanut-butter and jelly bagels on the weekend), so it only seemed appropriate to try making my own since I eat the stuff all the time. And the result? Well, are you surprised when I say “what a difference?” 😉 Its just entirely different from the usual, but in a great way–even the color looks better, but I only used four ingredients! It was sweet, fresh tasting, and just fruity and light. I found myself looking for an excuse to use a bit of jam everyday just to enjoy this (and trust me, there was plenty of it to enjoy! If you measure this, you will find that this recipes makes approximately a whole lot of jam.). This is definitely not going to be my last jam-making experience.
Aside from the obvious ways to enjoy this jam (hello? Bagels?), I’ll have a few desserts posted in the coming weeks that make great use of this, so get jamming. 😛 This is also my entry to Putting Up, an event focused on preserves (jams, jellies chutneys, etc) hosted by both Pixie of You Say Tomahto, I Say Tomayto and Rosie of Rosie Bakes a Peace of Cake, and being new to the preserving world, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what everybody else is preserving out there.
- 2-2.5 cups strawberries, hulled
- ~1 lb rhubarb
- 1 box pectin
- 5.5 cups sugar
Begin by preparing the fruit. In the case of preserving things, washing it well is a great first step–why save any dirt or junk on your fruit? Then, hull the strawberries and chop the rhubarb into roughly 1 inch long chunks.
Transfer the rhubarb chunks into a nonstick saucepan and add both a handful of the sugar and little bit of water to help get things going and to partially submerge the rhubarb (about 1/2-3/4 of a cup). Heat this up and simmer until the rhubarb gets pulpy and mushy.
Once the rhubarb has cooked sufficiently, add in the strawberries. Seeing how this is a jam and not a jelly, you don’t want to puree or mush these up too finely, so in the name of keeping chunks in the jam, add the berries in batches so you can have varying levels of mashedness. I worked in thirds–add a third of strawberries, crush with a potato masher, add another third, crush, etc.
Once all of the strawberries have been worked in, add the pectin and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.
Finally, add in the sugar–yes, all of it! There’s two things really that make a jam/jelly take on that characteristic texture: pectin and sugar. Seeing how both strawberry and rhubarb are low in pectin (hence the need to add it as an ingredient), a lot of sugar is not just for flavor, but a necessity, so don’t go trying to make this “healthier” by reducing the sugar–you risk getting soup instead of jam.
Stir things constantly to mix the sugar into the fruit well and get this warmed up to a full rolling boil again. Once boiling, let it continue to go for about another minute (still stirring), and then, get it off of the heat because you’re done! Skim off any of the foam that has decorated the surface–there’s nothing inherently bad about it, but it just doesn’t look so good in the finished product.
Follow good jarring practices and package this up right away in a sterile jar to prevent introducing any sort of nasty things into your jam (after all, this could potentially be sitting on your shelf for months! After all, like salt, sugar acts as something of a preservative, so once sealed in a sterile jar, this can last for months on your shelf until you open it). If you’re itching to dig in already (e.g. you have no patience like me), you need to let this stand for a few hours at room temperature, after which, you should move it to the fridge so it can firm up a bit.