Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
June 16, 2011
Two weeks into my summer vacation, I had a serious itch to make some strawberry jam. The problem was everywhere I looked the strawberries were either over-sized and under-flavored or ridiculously expensive. On a tip from a friend, I headed out Highway 12 just outside Sebastopol to Lao’s Strawberry Stand. It took three tries: first time he sold out, second time simply closed, but the third time is a charm. It was well worth the trouble. These strawberries bear very little resemblance to the strawberries sold year-round at the supermarket. They are super small, bright red all the way through, and absolutely bursting with flavor. They literally made me swoon. It is such a pleasure to take the time to put up food when it is the best quality. I was giddy with the thought that we would be able to enjoy these beautiful strawberries all winter.
The last few years, I have made strawberry rhubarb jam using low-sugar pectin and a standard process of heating the fruit and sugar to a boil, adding the pectin, and canning in sterile jars. It has always turned out good, but not great. Two problems I had were the strawberry and rhubarb both cooking down to a mushy pulp and the rhubarb turning a slightly greyish color. After reading Eugenia Bone’s method of slow roasting the fruit in a low oven, I had to try it.
Starting with the best strawberries and fresh rhubarb from my parents’ garden, I tossed both in half their weight of sugar. I kept the strawberries and rhubarb separate so I could pull them from the oven when they were done. They roasted at 200 degrees for about 2 hours. When I pulled them out, each pan was full of beautifully colored syrup and the fruit was intact. The strawberries were soft and the rhubarb still slightly firm. After draining the syrup into a pot, I added some Pomona’s pectin to assist in the gel. At the end, I added the strawberries and rhubarb back into the pot and canned them in sterile jars. Half the batch I put up as is with the whole berries and half the batch I broke down with an immersion blender. The whole fruit is perfect for waffles, pancakes, and crepes and the pureed is perfect for toast or PB & J.
This jam turned out very well. The extra time and effort of slow roasting the fruit definitely paid off. The color is bright and clear with none of the murky tones that have plagued my rhubarb jams in the past. The strawberries are soft, but hold their shape well and the rhubarb has the slightest crunch to it. The sweetness is just enough to bring out the flavor of the fruit with out being overpowering. Both of my mini taste testers give it a big thumbs up on both toast and pancakes (good thing, because we have 13 jars!) If the quantity is more than you want to take on, simply cut the recipe in half.
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
makes 14 half pints
adapted from Eugenia Bone
4 pound strawberries (about 6 pints)
2 1/2 pounds rhubarb (about 8 cups diced)
3 1/4 pounds sugar
Pomona’s Universal Pectin:
5 teaspoons calcium water
5 teaspoons pectin
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Rinse and hull the strawberries. Rinse and dice the rhubarb. Measure out the sugar and reserve 1/2 cup for the pectin. Toss the strawberries in 2/3 of the remaining sugar and place in a roasting pan. Toss the rhubarb with the last 1/3 of the sugar in a separate roasting pan. Roast the strawberries and rhubarb until the sugar is completely dissolved and they begin to soften. Gently stir the pans periodically to help the sugar dissolve. This will take 1 1/2 to 2 hours depending on the size of your fruit.
Strain the liquid from the strawberries and rhubarb pans into a large pot. Set fruit aside. Add calcium water to syrup and heat to a boil. Mix reserved 1/2 cup of sugar with the pectin. Add sugar mixture to hot syrup and restore to a boil for 2 minutes. Add strawberries and rhubarb to the syrup and reduce heat to low.
If you prefer a smoother consistency, use an immersion blender to break the chunks down until you have the texture you like. If you want chunks, leave it as is. I filled half my jars with chunky preserves and half with a smoother jam.
Use a ladle to pour hot jam into sterile jars. Top with a new lid and ring. Process in a boiling water for 10 minutes.
For more information on canning see: Home Canning Basics
Here is a printer-friendly version of the recipe: Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
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