Rhubarb — one of the first vegetables of the local growing season — is coming soon to a supermarket or farmers market near you. It looks like an exotic and burly pink-tinged celery stalk, but don’t be fooled. And don’t pass it by, either. Strawberry rhubarb jam is incredibly easy to make and is the perfect balance of tart and sweet. And my version is made for the fridge: no gelatin, no pectin, no heating or canning.
Rhubarb facts: It is a vegetable, but it is used as a fruit. Originally from Asia, its botanical name is Rheum rhabarbarum (which is rather an awful name, but please, don’t let that stop you. It’s really good stuff). The stem is the only edible part of the plant. It is in season in late spring and summer.
You can try strawberry rhubarb in pies: Briermere Farms in Riverhead and Makinajian Poultry Farm in Huntington both sell fantastic homemade pies that lend themselves to freezing (call ahead for availability), but I encourage you to give this simple fresh jam recipe a try. You’ll get about four 8 oz. jars from this amount; I like to use even smaller jars and gift them to friends who appreciate homemade treats.
Strawberry Rhubarb Refrigerator Jam
1.5 pints strawberries (about 24 oz), washed, hulled, sliced in half or quarters
5-6 medium stalks rhubarb, sliced into 1” chunks (about 1.5 lbs)
2 cups sugar
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
In a large bowl, mix strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and lemon juice. Stir to coat and let sit for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Place two saucers in the freezer. In a large saucepan, bring fruit to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Use a hand-held mixer or immersion blender to puree the fruit until pretty smooth. Reduce heat and cook at a lively simmer until mixture begins to thicken, 20-25 minutes. To test for gelling point, drop one teaspoon of jam on one of the chilled saucers and put back in the freezer for about a minute. When you take it out, the jam’s surface should wrinkle gently when pushed with your fingertip. If not, keep stirring and heating and try again in another five minutes or so, then try again with the remaining saucer. Ladle hot jam into jars. Allow to cool and refrigerate for up to two weeks.
Natalia de Cuba Romero blogs at Hot, Cheap & Easy.