RECIPE: Amber Noel’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam

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Jam is more versatile than you may think. Yes, it’s great for toast, but it’s also a delicious marinade, pie filling, ice cream topping, or even as a cocktail base. But that’s not the only way it’s versatile. The flavors you can create cross a wide spectrum as well: Spicy Plum, White Tea Nectarine, Blackberry Ginger. These are just some of the flavors I’ve come up with off the top of my head.

Me and my husband, Dan.

Me and my husband, Dan.

Most jams you see in stores are crap. No offense if you like them, but they are crap. The same basic, bland flavors just about everywhere you go, and believe me I’ve looked. But jam doesn’t have to be boring. Mixing some of your favorite fruits and spices, teas, anything you can think of (almost) is fun and rewarding.

My husband and I started making jam after a failed attempt at making pickles; I’ll spare you the details. I wanted to make something special for the guests who joined my husband and me at our wedding. What better than homemade jam? The process of learning was so exciting for me, and I didn’t want to stop after my party favors were done. That’s when I started to experiment.

I went to grocery stores and markets for inspiration, and was generally disappointed. Strawberry, Blackberry, Marmalade, and if I was lucky I might have seen something exotic like Strawberry-Rhubarb (what I made as wedding favors).

I wanted to make flavors that were fun, interesting, and most importantly, different. I started experimenting more and more, and finally decided to try my hand at selling them. My friends and family seemed to rave over every batch I made, but who knows if that was just to puff up my ego.

Try my Nectarine-Chai Jam on my Etsy store!

Try my Nectarine-Chai Jam on my Etsy store!

Either way, I was determined. I started up a blog on my experiences in learning how to jam, the dos and don’ts, what does what, and some general information about my jams and jamming.

I eventually opened my own store on Etsy, which if you have not been to, is great. They sell all handmade or vintage things. Great place to window shop, and a wonderful way for me and others to get our products to the world.

So, without further ado, here is the recipe I used for my wedding favors. Try it out, play with it, change it. Make it yours, then experiment with whatever you want.

Just Keep On Jammin’ Strawberry- Rhubarb Jam

This is one of my favourites, and one of the easier, yet delicious recipes. If you’ve only ever had store-bought jam, you’re missing out. There’s nothing better than fresh jam made from fruit you picked, and possibly even grew. Making jam is a surprisingly simple process that can get complicated, if you want it to be.

The basics are to pick or buy some ripe and flavorful fruit, mash it up, and then add some sugar and pectin. Voilà! Jam. Well… almost.

When making jam it’s best to keep it in small batches. If you get too overzealous and make a huge pot, it won’t come out right. So, keep it small.

I always use fresh, organic fruit, preferably grown locally.

I always use fresh, organic fruit, preferably grown locally.

Here’s what you’ll need:

4 Cups Strawberries
2 Cups Rhubarb
2-3 Cups Sugar
4 tsp Pectin (I use Pomona’s Universal)
3 tbsp lemon juice

Clean and hull the strawberries. Chop them up a bit and put them in a large pot. If you like chunky jams mash the strawberries, otherwise you can put them in your food processor.

Clean the rhubarb, chop it up, and stick it in a food processor to make sure it doesn’t come out stringy. Add it to the pot. Also add the lemon and bring to a boil, slowly, and stir often.

Now’s a good time to put a spoon in the freezer. Don’t worry, I’m not crazy, this is actually a very helpful step in testing the gel of your jam later.

Measure out the sugar and keep about ¼ of a cup separate to mix with the pectin. This will make sure the pectin doesn’t just clump in the jam.

Once the jam is boiling to where you cannot stir the boil away, add the sugar/pectin mix and bring back to a boil. Add the rest of the sugar, and boil one more time. Turn off the heat and grab that spoon out of the freezer. Put a dollop of jam on it and stick it back in the freezer. After about a minute, pull it out and turn the spoon sideways. The jam should be completely still, or very slowly falling, otherwise you should reboil the jam and add more pectin.

The finished jams!

The finished jams!

Now, scoop the jam into canning jars and leave a ¼ inch of space. Screw on the caps and stick them in a pot of boiling water, making sure they are at least an inch underwater. This is only necessary if you want to store the jam for later use. If you want to eat it all now, just stick it in the fridge.

After at least five minutes (more if you are not at sea level) carefully pull them out using tongs. The jars should all eventually make a popping sound. This means they have sealed.

Wahoo! You’ve done it. You’ve made some delicious, homemade jam. Now pass it on.