One of the great things about living in Ohio (at least the part of Ohio where my parents live) is the prevalence of farm stands and gardens. They aren’t trendy or hipster; that’s just the way it’s always been. You grow your own basil and cucumbers. You stop at a farmstand on the way home from work to pick up fresh sweetcorn for dinner. It’s wonderful, especially coming from Tokyo where produce is a precious commodity.
The other day we came home from dinner to find a big box in our driveway. Our neighbor had harvested some rhubarb and garlic and left us the best. package. ever. It’s an obscene amount of rhubarb, so the obvious thing to do was to preserve it in this sweet/tart Vanilla Bean Strawberry Rhubarb Jam. It hardly put a dent in the rhubarb box, however, so I need some other ideas! I’m thinking rhubarb curd (which has been a huge hit before) and pickled rhubarb. We’ve also got a strawberry-rhubarb pie in the works. Anyone else have any suggestions for how to use up a bumper crop of rhubarb?
I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t write this recipe for someone who has never canned before. There are some general safety tips and specifics about the process that you should be familiar with before making your own jam. It’s not complicated and it certainly shouldn’t be intimidating, but it does require some details that have been covered extensively by other people already in order to make sure you’re safely doing it. Check out this tutorial from PickYourOwn.Org about how to make jam if you need a tutorial or a refresher. It’s not the prettiest post (that font, argh!), but it’s really informative and helpful and written in a way that makes you want to be friends with the author.
Also, don’t be intimidated by the list of tools that you need. There’s a great Ball Canning Kit that you can usually find on sale at one of the big box stores toward the end of summer (I got mine on sale at Sur La Table for about $25).
p.s. I used my beginner calligraphy skills to make the labels; what do you think? I clearly need lots more practice, but I don’t think it’s too shabby. Carla and I went to an amazing class taught be Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls at the Oh Happy Day studio and I can’t stop playing with my calligraphy kit! It’s so, so, so much fun.
- 5 cups rhubarb cut into 1 inch pieces
- 6 cups of sugar (I like a less sweet jam, but you can use as much as 8 cups)
- 1/4 cup water
- juice from 1 organic lemon (about 3 tablespoons), reserve the spent lemons and any seeds
- 5 cups quartered strawberries
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed. Reserve pod.
- 2 teaspoons powdered pectin (optional)
- 8-10 half-pint canning jars with bands and lids
- 1. Sterilize your jars in a water bath. Prep lids and bands in a separate pan of hot (but not boiling) water. Keep the water bath for finishing the jars once they're filled.
- 2. If you reserved any lemon seeds, put them in a teabag or tea ball. You'll get some pectin from them.
- 3. Combine the rhubarb, sugar, water, lemon juice, spent lemon halves and seeds in a large saucepan with a large surface area over medium-high heat.
- 4. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Once the rhubarb begins to soften, add the strawberries, vanilla beans, vanilla pod and pectin. Cook for another 15 minutes at a rolling boil, stirring frequently and skimming any foam off the top. Once the jam has thickened slightly and become glossy, pull it from the heat.
- 5. Pour into the jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Seal with the lids and bands, then process in the water bath for 5-10 minutes.
- 6. Let cool, making sure the lids "ping" and indent so you know they've sealed. If some of them don't seal, you can try processing them again in a water bath or you can refrigerate those jars and consume them within a few weeks.
- Makes about 4.5 pints, I used 9 half-pint jars.
- I normally don't use pectin, but I made this for my family and they like a more solid jam. You can leave it out and it will just be a looser jam.