I love Rhubarb and it is usually quite hard to find it in our area because it has a very short growing season but this week I lucked out because I found lots of organic Rhubarb at our neighborhood Whole Foods. Most people like to make Rhubarb and Strawberry pie but somehow I am not very fond of pies. But, I do like the combination of Strawberries and Rhubarb, so I made a Rhubarb Strawberry Vanilla Jam today. I used about two pounds of Rhubarb and an equal quantity of fresh Strawberries (its peak strawberry season these days). The jam has come out very flavorful and really sweet and tart. I like to can my jams and chutneys in small 4 oz jars and often use them as hostess’ gifts when I visit friends or family. This morning I sealed a dozen jars and I still have a lot left over for our family to enjoy.
1. 2 lbs of Rhubarb stalks
2. 2-2.5 lbs of fresh ripe strawberries
3. 5 cups of sugar
4. 2-3 drops of red food paste (you can do without this too – I just liked to brighten the color of the jam)
5. One bean of Vanilla
6. 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract and one packet of pectin (if you like your jam very thick; I did NOT add any pectin to my jam).
1. Wash the Rhubarb stalks and using a sharp knife, chop the end off and discard the ends. Then slice the stalks in small pieces. If the Rhubarb stalks have any cellulous fiber on the outside of the stalks, you can remove that with a knife and discard it. The older the Rhubarb stalks get the more fibrous they get.
2. Wash the strawberries and remove any leaves or stems and slice them in small pieces. Remove the hard core if the strawberries have any.
3. In a large cooking pot that has a heavy bottom, pour the chopped rhubarb and strawberries and start heating them on low heat.
4. Add half a cup of water and let the contents of the pot simmer on low heat. Cover the pot but every 5 minutes or so, stir with a wooden spatula.
5. The strawberries and the rhubarb have high water content and to make a jam we need all this water to evaporate.
8. Add the 5 cups of sugar, one by one and continue cooking on low heat for another 30-40 minutes or until the jam starts to get a thick sticky look to it.
9. You can add the food paste at this stage to get a dark rich red color but if you don’t want to use anything artificial you can skip this step. Also add the vanilla extract at this point.
10. Stir the contents of the pot until the jam thickens. Remove the Vanilla bean from the jam and discard it. The flavor would have already been infused into the jam.
11. If you like your jam very thick, you can add a packet of pectin. I did not add any because I like my jam a little runny and strawberries have some natural pectin in them.