We’ve been getting a lot of rhubarb in our CSA, which is great because I love its tartness, it’s like a confused little produce item that can’t decide if it’s a vegetable or a fruit.  It’s the bridge between cold weather and harvest time that makes me feel like I can wait for local produce without getting scurvy (okay no I’m actually not worried about scurvy but it makes rhubarb even more fun to think it’s staving it off!).  Sometimes I just suck on a little piece to feel my face pucker up involuntarily.  With our first batch I made a rhubarb cherry skillet pie.  Oh man was it good.  But I wanted to start making something that could last, so I decided on jam which I can can (yes I said can can on purpose) and enjoy throughout the next year.  Besides with pie I have to eat it all that day before it spoils, wait, pie doesn’t spoil in 24 hours?  Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it 😉

 

I hadn’t made jam before this week, but I have made lots of apple butter, it’s my favorite Christmas present to give.  I notice that apple butter gels and goops together much thicker than when I’ve made syrups of rhubarb or berries before (yes, for ice cream, so tasty).  I decided it must be something to do with apples, and so thought I’d use apple juice rather than the water I normally use for syrups.  I was so excited by my brilliance, though of course in later research I learned it’s a common trick for jam, but I still feel brilliant!  It worked perfectly.  Another nice thing about using apple juice is that it has natural sugars so I only used 1/2 cup of sugar in the jam (1/3 cup in the batch without raspberries).  You can add more if you prefer it sweeter but I like mine a little tart.

 

Fortunately, I didn’t get the clarified apple juice which I’d considered in the store, clarified means the pectin is removed and I just learned while researching that pectin is what holds it together.  Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia about pectin: “It is produced commercially as a white to light brown powder, mainly extracted from citrus fruits, and is used in food as a gelling agent particularly in jams and jellies. It is also used in fillings, sweets, as a stabilizer in fruit juices and milk drinks and as a source of dietary fiber.”  It turns out that apples and citrus fruits contain large amounts of pectin, but soft fruits like grapes, cherries and berries contain very little.  SO, there’s your science lesson for the day, now on to the fun stuff!

 

This jam is delicious.  The first batch I made with rhubarb and strawberries, the second batch I added in raspberries.  Do you notice in the third picture that the strawberries are frosty?  That’s another great thing about jam, it’s perfect for fruit that’s getting a little too soft to eat fresh.  I noticed my strawberries and a couple stalks of rhubarb would be bad in another day or two, so I just popped them in a plastic bag in the freezer.  Frozen fruit still works great.  You can have so much fun with jam.  It’s a delicious treat simply spread on an english muffin, or spooned onto shortcakes with whipped cream (Yes, there’s a recipe below!  I reduced the one on the Bisquick box to two servings), in between cake layers, or in sandwich cookies.  What’s your favorite way to use jam?

Rhubarb Strawberry Shortcake

serves 2

Ingredients

3/4 cup bisquick mix
1 TBS butter melted (microwave in glass bowl 20 seconds)
3 TBS milk
1 TBS granulated sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup rhubarb strawberry jam

Instructions

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix bisquik, butter, milk and 1 TBS sugar in a small bowl until a sticky dough forms.

Drop dough in two mounds on a cookie sheet covered in foil and greased (I used a little butter).  Put in oven for 8 minutes.

Mix whipping cream and 1 tsp sugar then whip (I use an immersion blender) until thick and refrigerate.  After 8 minutes, or when shortcakes are golden, remove from oven.  Top with 1/2 the jam and 1/2 the whipped cream.

 

Rhubarb Strawberry Jam

makes about 1 pint

Ingredients

5-7 large stalks of rhubarb
10-15 Strawberries
(optional) 1 cup raspberries
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Instructions

Cut the rhubarb into large chunks (I just used kitchen shears).  Put everything into a large pot on medium high and stir.  As it begins to bubble, stir occaisionally for the next 15 minutes. 

By this time it should be a thick mush.  Reduce heat to low and continue simmering and stirring for 10-15 more minutes.  Taste (blow on your spoonfull first!) and add more sugar if desired.  Remove from heat and puree with immersion blender for a smoother consistancy.  Spoon into a jar and refrigerate.

Approximate Cost/serving: The rhubarb was part of our CSA and the strawberries and raspberries were bought in bulk, but it ended up costing me around $1 per cup of jam and 75 cents per serving for the dessert (shortcake+jam+whipping cream)

Vegetarian/Gluten Free: No meat here!  Elise has a gluten free shortcake recipe posted, I haven’t tried it but she always posts great recipes.  Make sure to get 100% juice, nothing with High Fructose Corn Syrup, yuck!


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