To say that my rhubarb is happy would be an understatement. I have more rhubarb than I know what to do with. So, with the canning abilities I honed with my salsa last fall, I decided I should tackle some homemade jam. Ryan’s favorite is raspberry-rhubarb and while searching the internet for a recipe, I stumbled across this recipe, which not only sounded delicious, but it was perfect because I had all the ingredients on hand already. I had just been to Costco and bought a ton of strawberries and raspberries, and other than the rhubarb, the only other thing it calls for is sugar. Most jam recipes call for pectin, which I didn’t have, having never made jam before, and I didn’t want to run to the store. Problem solved.
So the recipe starts with cutting up the strawberries and rhubarb. Easy enough. I wasn’t particular about getting small pieces. I just cut up the rhubarb into the 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices like I would for a crisp, and I quartered the strawberries unless they were super huge.
The next step is to cook and mash raspberries until soft and then press them through cheese cloth to collect the juice. The whole point is to avoid seeds in your jam. If you hate seeds, feel free to do this, but I don’t mind seeds at all, and the cheese cloth squeezing business sounded like a lot of work and a terrible mess so I skipped it altogether. I just threw my raspberries in the bowl with my rhubarb and strawberries.
Then all the fruit goes into a big pot and you add the sugar. The recipe calls for 8 cups of sugar for the 10 cups of fruit. I just couldn’t do it. It made my teeth hurt just thinking about it. So I only added half the sugar. I was nervous. I know sugar levels are important to get the right jelly consistency. Too little sugar and your jam is more like thick juice. They even sell pectin specifically for low sugar recipes. I wasn’t sure what that meant for my recipe where I was just using the pectin found naturally in the fruit. But I knew I didn’t want my jam to be that sweet, so I decided to press on.
A little internet research assured me that as long as I cooked my fruit long enough, my jam would gel. A main benefit of added pectin is that it allows the jam to set up without being cooked as long, so the fruit flavor remains fresher. Fruit cooked too long starts to taste dull. So my goal would have to be to cook the jam long to gel but not too long as to loose all the fresh fruit flavor.
But I kept cooking it until it got foamy. And then I kept cooking it until the foaming stopped. The recipe said to cook it until it reached 220 degrees on a candy thermometer. I don’t have a candy thermometer so I used my instant read meat thermometer but could never get it to read above 216. I finally gave up and just set a spoonful on a plate. When it cooled I could see it had set up like jam should. In the end I probably cooked the fruit for about 40 minutes.
Now it was time to can! While the jam was cooking, I started heating the canner full of water. It took nearly the full time the fruit cooked to get the water boiling in the canner. I boiled the jars in the canner to sanitize them, then let the sit in the rack above the water to stay warm until I filled them.
Then, using a funnel, I ladled the jam into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch of head space. Place a hot lid on the jar and screw on the band until it is just finger tight. Repeat until you run out of jam. I got just under 6 half pint jars from this recipe, so I processed the 5 full ones and left the 6th one unprocessed to enjoy right away. It only lasted a day. Turns out this jam is quite delicious
Once the jars are ready to go, lower them on the rack into the canner. Cover and bring the water back to a boil, then process for 20 minutes.
After the 20 minutes is up, turn of the burner and wait 5 minutes before taking the jars out of the canner. Set them on a towel to cool and listen for the pops to let you know the jars sealed. Let the jars cool without moving them for 12 hours. If any didn’t seal, you can reprocess them in clean jars with new lids, or just put them in the fridge to eat in the next couple weeks. Don’t worry, you shouldn’t have a problem eating the jam before it goes bad. Unless all your jars fail.
Once the jars cool to room temperature, store them in a cool dark place, like a pantry, for up to a year. There is no way my 5 jars are going to last that long. This jam is really good. Ryan had the 3/4 jar I didn’t process gone in a day. It makes a delicious breakfast on toast or an english muffin. I bet it would also be delicious over vanilla ice cream. Or you could just eat it out of the jar with a spoon. I won’t judge.
- 4 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 4 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 cups raspberries
- 4 cups sugar
- Mix ingredients in a 5 quart pan. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until foaming stops, approximately 40 minutes. Test for gel by cooling a tablespoon of jam on a saucer.
- Ladle into hot canning jars leaving 1/4 inch head space. Cover with hot lids and bands. Tighten bands until finger tight.
- Process in a water bath for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and wait 5 minutes to remove jars. Allow jars to cool undisturbed for 12 hours. Test for seal by pressing center of lids. They should not pop.
- Store in a cool dry place for up to a year.
- Yields 6 1/2-pint jars of jam.
- If any jars do not seal, they can be reprocessed or stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.