Spring is here. The weather was so great last week, warm and sunny; it almost felt like the beginning of summer. Everything is blooming and blossoming, there are just so many colors everywhere. And I did manage to get a light sunburn just from a picnic in the park. Today was the first day where the weather was grey and rainy so I decided to get me some spring in a jar. With rhubarb-strawberry jam!
I love when rhubarb come in season. It´s a reminder that winter is really over and it means that all the other wonderful summer-fruits are soon in season. I knew I wanted to make something with rhubarb this weekend but I wasn´t quite sure what. The idea to make jam was pretty spontaneous and since rhubarb itself tends to be a bit sour, I decided to add some strawberries as well.
It´s actually really easy to make jam. All you need is fruit, sugar and patience. There are still some things that can go wrong and I managed to do all of them during my jam-sessions so I guess I am an expert now. Me and my siblings used to make blueberry jam every year for my mums birthday when we spent our vacation camping in Sweden. It just never occurred to us to be prepared beforehand, so we always bought some sugar at the local supermarket and since the instructions where in Swedish, we didn´t understand a thing. So we mostly used the trial-and-error system which lead to all kind of different jams. One was really stiff, the other one extremely liquid and some even had a consistency that was quite similar to normal jam. Yay us!
Well, since then I did manage to educate myself on the whole jam-making-business and I am going to share my wisdom with you. The most important thing is to get your measurements right, fruit and sugar should be 1:1. Meaning that, if you have 1 kg strawberries, you need 1 kg of sugar. I know, it seems a lot but that´s what makes the jam last forever, it preserves it. Secondly, you need to know if the fruit you are using contains a lot of pectin or if not. In Germany you can buy special “jam-sugar” in every supermarket that already has some pectin and citric acid included, so it is really easy to make jam using that sugar. But I know that some countries don´t have that kind of sugar (I am looking at you Spain) and since our grandmothers managed to make jam without it, I am going to show you how to make jam just using regular sugar. The important thing is to know the amount of pectin that the fruit contains because that is what thickens the jam. Fruits that have a lot of pectin are citrus fruits, apples, quince, currant or gooseberries. These will only need some sugar and nothing more. Bananas, strawberries, cherries, mangos and rhubarb contain very little pectin, so it´s best to combine them with the fruit mentioned above to get the best results. Fruit that contain medium pectin are apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines, raspberries and blackberries.
The easiest thing to do if you want to make jam out of fruit that contain little pectin is just to add other fruit with a lot of pectin to it. I used the juice of two lemons and one grated apple and the result was just fine. It will not be the thickest jam but I liked the consistency. You will need to cook the jam longer than if you had used the “jam sugar”. If you want to know if the consistency is right, put some of the jam on a plate and see if it is still runny. If it gets rather stiff once it cools, then the consistency is fine.
Makes about 6 jars:
500 g strawberries
1 kg rhubarb
1,5 kg sugar
1) Make sure that your jars are really clean, that way the jam will last longer. Wash and chop the strawberries and the rhubarb. Squeeze the lemons and peel and grate the apple. Add fruit, lemon juice and sugar in a big pot and heat until it is cooking.
2) Let the jam cook for about 10 – 20 minutes, don´t forget to stir. Check if the consistency is right and place in the jars. Seal tight and let cool completely. If you have done everything right, there should be a vacuum in the jars. The jam last forever. Seriously, if the jars are clean and the lid is sealed tight, you could easily store them for about a year and they would still be good. Our grandmothers certainly knew how to jam!