Strawberry & Rhubarb Jam

Strawberry jam is a favourite in many households for good reason – when berries are in season, it’s one of the easiest ways to preserve them. But often strawberry jam recipes end up tasting sickly sweet because they call for high levels of sugar to help them set. This recipe uses slightly less sugar than others (so it’s a runnier jam), and the added tartness of the rhubarb means you end up with a beautiful balance of sweet, sour and aromatic flavours.

Ingredients:

This recipe makes around 6-8 regular jars

1 kg ripe strawberries

½ kg rhubarb stems

1 ¼ kg sugar

1 lemon

1 vanilla bean

1 Granny Smith apple

Method

  1. Wash fruit well in warm water. Trim leaves off rhubarb.
  2. Chop strawberries and rhubarb into similar sized chunks. Combine with sugar in large pot.
  3. Wash lemon, slice in half, squeeze juice into pot and then add the leftover skin & pulp.
  4. Split vanilla bean in half, scrape out seeds then add the lot to the pot.
  5. Stir until well combined, cover and leave to macerate overnight.
  6. Peel & grate apple into pot and stir to combine.
  7. Bring to a rolling boil and keep there until it reaches a ‘set’.
  8. Remove lemons and vanilla pods.
  9. Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal while hot.

Store in a cool dark cupboard for potentially years before opening, then in the fridge once you’ve cracked the jar.

NOTES

* Both rhubarb and strawberries can be frozen, so if you’re growing your own, just add them to a container in the freezer until you have enough. No need to thaw the fruit before macerating.

* Rhubarb leaves must be removed, as they contain high levels of oxalic acid, and can cause stomach upsets and even kidney stones if eaten!

* Due to the low pectin levels in ripe strawberries and rhubarb, this recipe makes a slightly runnier jam than our other recipes. Be sure to add any white bits of strawberry, as these have more pectin in them and can help reach a set.

* It can still be tricky to reach a firm set with this jam, so you may like to have some pectin on hand to add if it looks like your batch is struggling to gel enough. You can buy powdered or liquid pectin either on its own or in a mixture called Jam Sugar, but you can also make your own by boiling down really tart apples or crabapples (foraged ones are great for this) and straining the liquid. We freeze this in ice cubes so we can just add a few when making preserves with low-pectin fruit.

 * If you’re doubling this recipe, cook it in two separate pots and then combine just before jarring up. This prevents overcooking, which can make your jam turn dark and lose a lot of its flavour before it reaches a set.

* Keep the leftover apple skins and pips to make your own apple scrap vinegar.

* Add the used vanilla pods and as much of the ‘scrapings’ you can get off the sides of the pot, add to a jar and cover with vodka (or gin). Give this a shake every day for a few weeks, then put aside in the back of the pantry to infuse for a few months. Strained & bottled, this makes an amazing liqueur.

Permaculture Principle 2: Catch & store energy; 3: Obtain a yield; 6: Produce no waste

If you’re looking for other jam recipes to try your hand at, take a look at these

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