Home Recipes Strawberry Rhubarb: The Fred and Ginger of Jam

Strawberry Rhubarb: The Fred and Ginger of Jam

Strawberry Rhubarb: The Fred and Ginger of Jam

strawberry rhubarb jam spoonful on a plate

Strawberry Rhubarb Romance in a Jam

In the world of preserves (and pie), spring’s star couple is strawberry 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 or buttered snack should be without.

bowls of chopped rhubarb and cleaned strawberriesRhubarb on the left, strawberries on the right, a marriage of flavors in the middle.

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.) fresh strawberries in sugarfresh rhubarb ready for jam makingStrawberry 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


  1. bowl 1: add rhubarb, 3 cups of sugar, and juice of 2 limes
  2. bowl 2: add strawberries, 3 cups of sugar, and juice of 2 limes
  3. Let both bowls sit overnight covered and refrigerated
    1. The sugar draws out the juice and the next day the fruit will looked candied
  4. Drain and mix liquids into to a nonreactive preserving pan or soup pot
    1. Pan should have a wide mouth at least 10 inches across to facilitate evaporation
    2. Pan should also have a thick bottom for even heating
  5. Simmer combined liquids, stirring often to prevent scorching
  6. As the mixture thickens, say in 15 minutes, add both fruits
  7. Simmer about another 15 minutes, still stirring at regular intervals
  8. Shut off heat, stir until simmering subsides
  9. Let it sit on the stove until cool
  10. Refrigerate overnight
  11. Reheat mixture the next day, simmer for about 20 minutes (stir baby, stir!)
  12. Again, remove from heat and let cool, and evaporate
  13. Repeat steps 9-12 until jam enjoys a thick consistency
  14. 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).


English Bulldogs on the porch

Boz and Gracie know if there’s jam on a plate, a scone, biscuit or brioche can’t be far behind.

homegrown crimson rhubarb stalks

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.)

big rhubarb plant

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


  1. Tom, this is perfect – I have an abundance of rhubarb and strawberries are plentiful at the markets this time of year. Looking forward to trying the simmer/evaporation method..sounds like it will develop more color and flavor.
    I usually make a strawberry-rhubarb custard pie that is filling and almost nutritious! but this will add to my early summer repertoire…

  2. Nancy, Strawberry Rhubarb Custard Pie is about as good as it gets. Between the jam and the pie, I better freeze some rhubarb for later use. Thanks! -TC

  3. No rhubarb to be found in this man’s country. What a dump! LOL Your jam looks amazing – just love the color of it and as for that plate…wow! Beautiful!

  4. Tom – fun fact from sarge…rhubarb leaves are toxic in addition to being bitter. B & G may not be interested but as a warning to your readers who may have children. I sure do miss my Mom’s summertime rhubarb concoctions. –sgt

  5. brion, you sir are a font of knowledge, an appreciated font of knowledge.

    Sylvie, you were reading my mind. My Mom just sent me a rhubarb ice cream recipe I am eager to try. Now that you mentioned it, I will.

  6. Hello Tom!

    Your rhubarb & strawberry lime jam looks terrific!! Ilove the addtion of the limes,..what a lovely tang that must give!!

    Your rhubarb in your garden is triving!! It is just the same in my parent’s garden!!
    I will make this tasty jam!! Thanks a lot, my friend!
    Many greets from sunny Brussels!

  7. How I would love to make this. As you probably know, I have more rhubarb again this year than I know what to do with! I am just having trouble finding the time to be in my kitchen right now. Way too much work outdoors in the garden. And when I’m done there, I won’t have a kitchen :-[

  8. Oh my my my my MY! That looks so wonderful. I love a preserve that needs a little attention over the course of several days. It makes me feel we are affectionately acquainted; meeting up again over biscuits or scones is all the more pleasure!

    Thanks, Tom!

  9. I’m certain that rhubarb is available to some of its fans here, but personally I have never seen it at the market 🙁 Well I guess I can’t have everything, but I would have loved trying this recipe for jam…such wonderful color!

    Love the shots of Boz and Gracie.

  10. Hi Kelly, You could probaby use frozen strawberries, but I’d really try to find fresh. I think flavors and textures are best with fresh fruit. If you give it a try, let me know how it works.

  11. Tom I’m a rhubarb purist so I couldn’t bring myself to add strawberries (read between the lines, mine are not ripe yet) so I just made this today using just the rhubarb. I also did the overnight soak and then just cooked it once. It’s divine. I’m not sure how cooking it a few more days will help, it’s so amazing now. The flavor is bright and fresh despite that it’s been cooked, the color is that ruby red. I hate cooked strawberry jam but I’m strapped for freezer space so this is such a great solution. I can can it so it’s shelf stable. I made an almond butter sandwich with it today just to test drive it and it’s unbelievable. Thank you!

  12. Annette, you’re right; you can shorten the process. Usually for me the extra day thickens things up a bit, but if it’s good to go after one simmering, jackpot! Strawberry has very low pectin naturally, so when you add it to the jam it usually takes the extra day.

    And as for the ice cream recipe–I’m on it! Stay tuned.

  13. […] by the deadline to stay in the challenge. When I opened my google reader the other day I saw this. If you haven’t visited Tom’s blog you need to. A master gardener gardening in my zone […]

  14. Thank you for the wonderful recipe – I had just checked out the Ferber book from the library and was happy to use your post instead! Made the jam, turned out wonderful. Have you even played with reducing the sugar a bit, I was thinking 5 cups might suit my tastes, and wondering if it would effect the thickening of the jam too much? Enjoying your blog from Seattle – Lisa

  15. I had to duct tape the lid onto the pot to keep my roommates out of it! That’s how unbelievably delicious it is! It’s not that I don’t want to share, but it isn’t done yet! Still, it’s really fabulous spooned over vanilla ice cream on the second day.

    • Good move on the duct tape! Heather, you are one wise woman; you discovered the other choice use for this jam: ice cream topping. Cheers!

  16. Okay, not sure I want to admit this. There is obviously something fairly fundamental that I don’t know. I’m made my share of strawberry rhubarb jam ( along with strawberry rhubarb pie, my favorite). I’ve always added pectin. My attempts at jam that doesn’t have added pectin has been disappointing. What makes it thicken? Looks like you are cooking it a fair amount. Are you thickening like apple butter? There I’ve said it.

  17. Hi LeAnn, I reheat it slowly barely enough to simmer and shut it off afer 15-20 minutes with the lid off. It thickens by evaporation. It’s not thick like apple butter, more like thick spoon jam. You want to just get the heat up enough to start evaporation, stir a bit and shut it off and let the moisture escape. That’s what thickens it.

  18. Ok, that might also answer a question I have, which is why my finished jam doesn’t have the nice big chunks of fruit that yours does. I think I’ve simmered it too hard for 15-20 minutes rather than just getting it to simmer then shutting it off. And lots of stirring, which has broken up all the fruit bits. Not that it isn’t still heavenly delicious. Just no chunky strawberry bits.

  19. Thank you for the great recipe! We are in Anchorage, AK and the rhubarb is plentiful here!!! How long will the preserves last canned? Thanks Again!

  20. Hi Brandy, you are very welcome and as far as how long? Well I just ate my last jar from 2009. So if sealed well, I’d say a year is a good bet. Maybe you need to eat more jam if you have some left in 2011. 😉

  21. Hi Tom! This looks delicious. I’m about to make some tonight.

    I’m curious, have you ever tried adding mint? I’m thinking about giving it a try.

  22. Jugulum, I’ve never tried adding mint but I have steeped rosemary and bay in the juice a couple times, tastes great as does a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.

  23. You had me at Fred and Ginger and then I kept reading. I just got home with my 7 year old and we picked 17 quarts of strawberries. I don’t grow that much, and I don’t weed mine…I throw hay down. So, I am not the best of jam makers, because I don’t measure I wing it. So, I was told I HAD to measure. What are the Cups amount the pounds. You said 2.5 strawberries what does that measure to a Cup? I am attempting to do this right with all the work I have done because yours looks so darn tasty!

  24. OK. Here is a blueberry pie. Now since I went to an electric oven I only cook it 40 min. OK so keep an EYE on the time. the crust should be brown and you can SMELL it. and I don’t put so much sugar when I use the exact amount of blueberries. I like a thick pie; so I use more berries. I use almost 4 cups of berries then I use a half of cup of sugar and I make the Berry mixture before the crust so the sit in chill in it for a while. I play around with this. I never do anything to the exact EXCEPT the vinegar that I don’t mess with. That I measure!

    Blueberry Kucheu

    Crust 1. Cup of flour
    ½ Cup of butter
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 tablespoon vinegar

    Mix all ingredients together. Press into pie plate. Use an 8” pie plate. I usually make more batter by taking the above ingredients and cutting in half to make a thicker crust.

    2-3 Cups of Blueberries
    ½ Cup of Sugar
    1 tablespoon Flour
    Dash of Cinnamon

    Mix the berries and sugar and flour gently pour onto pie crust.

    Bake 45 min at 375 degrees.

  25. I’ve been looking for a strawberry-rhubarb jam recipe that doesn’t call for pectin and am so happy to find one–and one from a fellow quince fan at that. My favorite quince recipe is for a orange-ginger-quince marmalade.

    • Sofia, I hope for a bumper crop of quince this year and what better way to celebrate than to make your awesome sounding marmalade (note to self: stop saying awesome). A perfect culinary trio in my book: ginger, quince, and orange.
      cheers! Tom

  26. Your recipe is the closest I could find to my old French cookbook recipe. We’re moving, I packed the cookbook and needed to double check my memory. You are so right – you do NOT need pectin when the fruit marinates in the sugar. I have an added suggestion you might enjoy, a tip from one of my French friends. When the jam is all ready , just before you put it in containers, add elderflower blossoms. They add a wonderful flavor, and the little white blossoms look lovely.

  27. Thanks Jerie, for the edlerflower blossom tip. I have to plant one in my orchard as the one near the house just got munch on by a roving band of deer bandits.

  28. Just sampled the jam freshly cooked this morning….awesome (I like to use that word a lot myself!) I can’t imagine it being any better, the color is rich red, the elderflowers give a sweet little white blossom contrast…..in the containers they go in a little while!

  29. Tom, while trying to come up with a fresh idea on what to do with my rhubarb I stumbled upon your post. I can’t wait to get into the kitchen and start this. Thanks for the ideas!

  30. Finn just remember, this will require you to make biscuits as well, you’re going to have to do some quality assurance taste testing to make sure the jam is up to standards. 😉

  31. Tom, i just discovered your recipe and can’t wait to make it! Being a novice jam maker, do i have to get those glass jam jars and boil the lids and sanitize the jars in the dishwasher?

  32. Hi Lynn, yep pick up some half pint canning jars from ball, kerr or weck, and just boil them for 5-10 minutes, add the lids to hot water for several minutes to soften rubber seals before using. The dishwasher works too, you just need to reheat the lids before sealing, again to soften the rubber seals. Good Luck!

  33. Oh my yummo! I love this combo and added a little fresh lavender blossoms to my jam. Love the option of no pectin also! Thanks Tom!

  34. Tom,
    I am going to try your recipe this week. I am so excited, as this looks so perfect. I want to harvest my rhubarb now as fall seems to be creeping its way in. I don’t often can preserves or jam as I don’t eat too many sweets, not that I don’t love them. Your farm is wonderful, and Boz & Gracie are great! Thanks for sharing.!!!

  35. Hi Peg, thanks for the visit, and good luck on the jam. My rhubarb is ka-put now that it’s September, but I realize now that next year I need to make twice as much!

  36. Yes mine is now ka-put as well. Ran to the store for more jars —yes the project is growing. Well my Patch & Teddy were happy to go along and as the nastiest of treats, I stopped and got them their quarterly mac cheeseburger of which they were happy to share. Oh yes. And a cup of water.
    After this it’s the bing cherries. The beets, the cabbage are still happy in the garden. Much thanks.

  37. Funny, I added lime to my jam that was not in the recipe I just used, a wonderful addition. I was looking for a pectin free recipe, so I could lighten the sugar a bit. I will try this one next time. It definately looks like it tastes good.

  38. I made this last summer and it was Da Bomb! Beautifully tart, perfectly bright, and it tastes like spring in a jar. Best jam I’ve ever made. Even my 5-year-old loves it.

  39. Your jam recipe sounds marvelous. I plan to try it this afternoon. I have to tell you that I loved the bulldogs in your pictures. I had one for 14 years – he’s been gone 23 years. The Chaunce was not much for gardening either other than digging holes to hide a bone. Thanks!

  40. For the past 4 years I’ve made straw/rhub jam, trying different recipes. They were all good but not keepers. I JUST tasted from the batch following this recipe and bazinga!! I’ve found the keeper recipe. It’s delicious, thanks for sharing.

  41. Hi Tom
    I have alrready made 2 batches of raspberry/rhubarb jam, but had to use pectin. Today, I will try your recipe…how many cups of strawberries is 2 1/2 lbs? Looking forward to the new limey taste!

    • Hi Joanna, You know I’ve never used honey in jam making. It may work but not sure, I’d have to do some research. I’d worry it may crystallize the jam if too much is used or cause spoilage if too little is used. And Honey in large amounts has a strong flavor and can dilute the flavor of the fruit.

  42. Hi Tom – this sounds just like what I’ve been looking for – a return to ‘traditional’ jam making. I’m tired of using pectin! Am excited to hear you’ve used a bay leaf(ves) in it – I’ve got some fresh that I’m itching to use.
    Bring on the jam jars!!

  43. Ah… your methods speak to me. I too dove into Christine Ferber (love her book). But sometimes I have to go about jam making differently. So hunting around looking to see how others have made strawberry rhubarb jam, I found you. Well, I found you a while ago but got a new job last December and there hasn’t been much time for cooking, let alone making jam. Anyway, I started a batch 7 days ago and just finished it tonight. I took your casual approach to extremes and love the outcome!


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