Last year, one of my boys spotted a roadside vendor with rhubarb plants for sale. He brought me home a few (while on his bicycle, yet!) and I was happy to plant them.
Rhubarb plants are easy to grow – they just need a well drained spot, and they don’t mind a bit of sandy soil. They have great big leaves, and SOME people think they are unattractive – so I plant them off in a corner, where they can take as much space as they like – mine are in my raspberry patch.
This year, we were away in early to mid June – so I am just in time to harvest some fresh rhubarb. The strawberries are also starting to yield, and I am lucky enough to have some organic strawberries, to go with my organic rhubarb. It’s time to make jam.
I just needed to make sure I had some pectin, (I used crystal Certo) and sugar (because 5 cups is a lot), and enough canning jars. The recipe calls for 6 250ml jars, and I rounded up 2 500ml and 2 250ml jars and then put out a few extras – just in case.
I used the Bernardin recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Jam – leaving out the lemon rind.
Rhubarb is ready in June – I pick the outermost stems – alternating between plants. We all know not to eat the toxic leaves – but the stems are fine – even the green parts. The stems of different plant varieties are more or less green than others – and they tend to be pinker closer to the soil – but you can eat the green stems.
Clean and sterilize jars and lids in boiling water. I covered the clean jars in water and boiled for about 10 minutes – I also did the rings – and left sealing lids for later. I removed the jars and rings and set them aside – reserving the hot water to use again to sterilize the full jars. I find it convenient to sit the jars on an enamel tray. This keeps everything clean and easy to tidy up later. (I spill a lot).
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam Ingredients:
3.5 cups washed, hulled and crushed strawberries
(I used fresh organic – it was almost a shame to crush them down – and I just sliced the green ends off of them! – I have used frozen strawberries in the past – and it turned out well – the strawberries just need to be at a “crushable” level}
1 cup finely diced rhubarb stems (cut them into small pieces so that they cook down as well as the strawberries – you don’t want the rhubarb to have a texture like celery in your jam! – this took four or five rhubarb stems for me)
1 box crystal fruit pectin (57gm)
1/4 cup lemon juice (I used Realemon)
1/2 tsp butter or margarine to keep jam from foaming
5 1/4 cups granulated sugar
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam Directions:
In a large stainless steel pot (I use my pasta pot), stir together strawberries, rhubarb, lemon juice, pectin and butter.
Heat and stir over high heat to a full boil. Add all of the sugar – bring back to a full boil – stirring constantly, and keep heating until the boil cannot be stirred down (as the Bernardin instructions say – but take care – I have burnt the bottom of my jam over my gas stove – so keep an eye on things!}
Keep the jam at a full boil for one full minute. Remove from heat.
Ladle into prepared jars – leaving 1/2 inch headspace or airspace at the top of each jar. Any leftover jam – not filling a jar to the proper airspace can go in an extra jar – and be placed in the refrigerator to enjoy soon.
Heat sealing disks in the warm water. Wipe clean the tops of the glass jars and place the sealing discs over each. Place a sterilized ring over each jar and lid – and tighten to finger tight level.
Place all jars upright back into the water pot – ensuring that water covers each jar.by more than an inch. Bring to a boil, and process for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit in water for another 5 minutes. Then remove with tongs (keeping upright) and sit on a cooling rack or tray.
Leave the jars to cool for 24 hours – you should hear a pop from each jar as the lids contract and create a vacuum as they cool.
My Strawberry Rhubarb Jam turned out exactly right – but I wish I had more….. It’s the first preserve of this season, and I see the Raspberries are almost ready.