In the world of preserves (and pie), spring’s star couple is strawberry and rhubarb. One’s sweet, one’s sour, both show up in the garden or market at the same time, and their textures are different enough to keep the end result interesting. So today my friends, I’m going to share with you how I make strawberry-rhubarb jam–the spring-born spread that no breakfast baked good should be without.
Jam Notes: I make jam a little differently, not employing processed pectin in recipe. More times than not, pectin takes jam and turns it into a jello shooter. I prefer to harness the powers of evaporation to concentrate flavor and to create a thick jam that can stay put on a spoon or toast. With this recipe, I took first place (strawberry category) in the jam-making contest at the Strawberry Festival on Vashon a couple years ago. (I finally took the blue-ribbon off my jacket this year.) Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam Recipe (adapted from Christine Ferber’s Mes Confitures)
- 2.5 pounds chopped rhubarb (cleaned, size of large sugar cubes)
- 2.5 pounds strawberries (cleaned, whole or sliced in half)
- 6 cups sugar
- 4 limes
- bowl 1: add rhubarb, 3 cups of sugar, and juice of 2 limes
- bowl 2: add strawberries, 3 cups of sugar, and juice of 2 limes
- Let both bowls sit overnight covered and refrigerated
- The sugar draws out the juice and the next day the fruit will looked candied
- Drain and mix liquids into to a nonreactive preserving pan or soup pot
- Pan should have a wide mouth at least 10 inches across to facilitate evaporation
- Pan should also have a thick bottom for even heating
- Simmer combined liquids, stirring often to prevent scorching
- As the mixture thickens, say in 15 minutes, add both fruits
- Simmer about another 15 minutes, still stirring at regular intervals
- Shut off heat, stir until simmering subsides
- Let it sit on the stove until cool
- Refrigerate overnight
- Reheat mixture the next day, simmer for about 20 minutes (stir baby, stir!)
- Again, remove from heat and let cool, and evaporate
- Repeat steps 9-12 until jam enjoys a thick consistency
- Your jam is ready to eat, can or freeze.
Don’t let the several-day process scare you. I usually reheat, simmer and stir the jam while I’m cooking dinner or doing dishes. (There are always dishes.) It’s really only about 30 minutes of fussing each day for something you’ll enjoy all year (if not eaten sooner).
Boz and Gracie know if there’s jam on a plate, a scone, biscuit or brioche can’t be far behind.
Rhubarb thrives in the cool climate of the Northwest. I heavily dress it with compost in the winter to encourage robust growth in spring. As for my strawberry-growing prowess, it’s often less than stellar. I usually trade rhubarb for strawberries with a neighbor who shares my fondness for this classic flavor combo. (No strawberry patch weeding for me.)
Boz is not so much guarding the rhubarb as contemplating his next move to breach the deer fence and investigate the compost. If only he could locate truffles.
One year ago: From Quince It Came