Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, Two Ways

jamonbreadThis year marks my third season of canning to preserve the harvest, but only my second year of making jam.  Since I am no longer a jam-newbie, I decided that this summer I would experiment with trying to make some completely local jams & preserves, using no refined sugar or commercial pectin. Due to the metric ass-load of strawberries I picked on Wednesday, and getting some more rhubarb in our CSA, I had enough to make two batches of strawberry rhubarb jam, and decided to compare them side-by-side. 

The first version is adapted from a recipe in Gourmet Preserves, by Madelaine Bullwinkel of Chez Madelaine. The recipe is already lower in sugar than many ‘traditional’ jam recipes, which can contain 6 or even 9(!) cups of sugar, but I lowered it by a third anyway – I like to taste the fruit in my fruit jams, not the sugar.  The second version is the same recipe, but made completely with local ingredients (honey instead of sugar, no lemon).  In a side-by-side taste test, I have to say that I prefer the first version; lemon juice really does kick up the strawberry flavor and without it, the local version tastes more of rhubarb and the strawberry gets a bit lost.  It’s still a quite yummy jam, but more rhubarb-strawberry than strawberry-rhubarb, if you know what I mean.  In a way, it’s nice that they are rather different tasting because I will use them for different things.  Surprisingly I didn’t get much of a honey flavor in the local version, although the set is a little softer than the sugared version.  They are both quite good and I think with some tinkering I can bring out the strawberry flavor in the local version – as always, stay tuned!

Adapted from Strawberry Rhubarb Jam, Gourmet Preserves, by Madelaine Bullwinkel

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Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

INGREDIENTS

Reduced Sugar Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

  • 2 lbs strawberries
  • 1 lb rhubarb, washed and trimmed
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • juice and peel from 1 medium lemon
  • 1 and 1/3 cups sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)

METHODS

  1. If canning, prepare canner, jars and lids
  2. Rinse, hull and slice strawberries to approximately equal sized pieces (I usually quarter large ones and halve smaller ones) and transfer to a large stock pot.
  3. Cut rhubarb into 1/2-inch slices; if you get a really large stalk, slice it in half lengthwise, then slice horizontally. Add to strawberries.
  4. Remove the outer yellow peel (avoid the bitter white pith) from the lemon with a vegetable peeler.  Slice into thin strips and add to the strawberries.  Juice the lemon and reserve.
  5. Add the water to the strawberries, cover the pot, and bring liquid to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat, uncover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add lemon juice, then the sugar, 1/3 cup at a time, stirring in between and waiting until the jam comes to a simmer again between each addition.  Continue to cook over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes, or until the jam reaches a temperature of 220 degrees F, or when you drag a spoon across the bottom of the pan, the jam spits and the stripe from the spoon fills in slowly (i.e. you can see the bottom of the pan for a few seconds).  Turn off the heat.
  7. Skim off any foam.  Fill hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Alternatively, store jam in a clean glass jar in the refrigerator (do not store hot jam in plastic) until set.

Yields 3 and 1/2 cups.

100% Local Strawberry Rhubarb Jamjam

  • 2 lbs strawberries
  • 1 lb rhubarb, washed and trimmed
  • 3/4 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

METHODS

  1. If canning, prepare canner, jars and lids
  2. Rinse, hull and slice strawberries to approximately equal size (I usually quarter large ones and halve smaller ones) and transfer to a large stock pot.
  3. Cut rhubarb into 1/2-inch slices; if you get a really large stalk, slice it in half lengthwise, then slice horizontally. Add to strawberries.
  4. Add the water to the strawberries, cover the pot, and bring liquid to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat, uncover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add honey, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring in between and waiting until the jam comes to a simmer again between each addition.  Continue to cook over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes, or until the jam reaches a temperature of 220 degrees F, or when you drag a spoon across the bottom of the pan, the jam spits and the stripe from the spoon fills in slowly (i.e. you can see the bottom of the pan for a few seconds).  Turn off the heat.
  6. Skim off any foam.  Fill hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Alternatively, store jam in a clean glass jar in the refrigerator (do not store hot jam in plastic) until set.

Yields 3 and 1/4 cups.

OPTIONS

  1. The original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar; I reduced it by one-third.  The resulting reduced-sugar jam is very flavorful, and not overly sweet, but yield is reduced due to the lower amount of sugar and longer cooking time required to achieve a set (the original recipe claims a yield of 5 and 1/2 cups, but I would guess more like 4 and 1/2 cups).
  2. The 100% local version lost some strawberry flavor without the lemon juice; next time I make it I will try 3 lbs of strawberries to 1 lb of rhubarb, and up the salt to 1/2 teaspoon.

STORE

If canned, will keep well in a cool, dark spot for 1 year.  If refrigerated, use within 3 months.

SEASON

Late spring into early summer.

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8 comments

  1. Kat

    I made this tonight with the season’s first strawberries… And it worked perfectly. So far, it seems like the set will be good, and the flavor! It’s tangy and clean, and just right. I did end up getting 4 and a half cups, though, but I think that’s because I only had .63 pounds of rhubarb, and made up the rest with more strawberries. Or whatever. Either way, I’m not complaining! I’m not daring enough to try the strawberry-rhubarb-caramelized onion jam, but this is a start!

  2. Pingback: Dude, Ethel, where ya been? « Em-dash of salt

    • Hi Deena,

      As far as I know, being at altitude should not affect the ability to form a set, although you may need to cook the jam longer in order to bring it to the set point. Did you try the version with sugar or with honey? It may be that the strawberries you used had less pectin than the ones I used in the original recipe (pectin varies with the weather during growing conditions, the ripeness of the fruit, the time since harvest, etc.).

      It may still set up in the jars: leave them alone for 2 weeks or so and check back. If not, well, you’ll have some fabulous strawberry-rhubarb syrup!

  3. Laura

    Hi, this is amazing. I used the recipe with honey, though only used 3/4 C of honey, and 2.5 pounds of strawberries. (My berries were sweet enough) I had to simmer the fruit for a Loooong time before it thickened but it did. I’m sure it was just due to the low level of pectin in the fruit. I used your instructions for canning. with a dish towel, and tongs… I look forward to getting a rack and more tools. I did have one of my jars tip but I still heard a ping for each jar.. if it ‘pinged’ and the lid is pressed down it is totally sealed even thought it tipped?
    Thanks again.. I will make this many more times though increasing the recipe next year.

    • Hi Laura,

      A tipped jar is no problem as long as it sealed properly. You might be able to reduce the cooking time if you add some pectin to the mix next time: homemade apple or citrus pectin, frozen concentrated apple juice (which also adds some sweetness) or just a peeled, diced apple. Strawberries are naturally low in pectin (a fact that I did not know way back in ’09) and without any sugar to help activate their natural pectin, they could probably use a small boost.

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