Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

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I have a sad tale to share today, friends. A tale of woe with a warning: let not this happen to you.

Last week, my friend A dropped an armload of beautiful rhubarb on my front step. Thick and red, it was all rhubarb is supposed to be – nothing like the few spindly green crowns I have in my back yard.

(Those stalks below? the best of my back yard. I know.)

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I thought long and hard about how to put it to best use, and settled on a big pot of strawberry-rhubarb jam to smear on toast and scones. Why settle for one pie that will likely be gone in a day when you can jar that summery taste to spread around? (Pun totally intended.) I want my morning to taste like summery pie.

Once chopped, I had about 6 cups of rhubarb – I went and bought 3 pints of beautiful organic strawberries that were difficult to not eat as I trimmed and halved them into the pot.

I cranked it up. I added sugar and lemon juice and brought the lot to a foamy pink simmer.

And then I went to check my email.

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Do I even have to say?

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Turns out jam will not cook itself.

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I thought I could salvage it – call it “burnt sugar strawberry jam” or some such (I’m sure browned butter and burnt sugar everything got their start in a similar way), but it was too far gone.

Oh woe is me.

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I salvaged a few berries I had saved for W and managed to simmer a tiny pot of it, and luckily there’s no shortage of rhubarb in our neighbourhood (outside my back yard). But those berries.

I’d rather not talk about it.

I had decided to post this as part of The Canadian Food Experience Project, which begins today. Val in Edmonton came up with the idea, and has enlisted over 50 food bloggers to share our collective stories of Canadian cuisine, which I think is a fine idea. This month’s topic is a Canadian food memory, and I have memories of the neighbourhood kids spending their summers with a plastic cup of sugar and a stalk of rhubarb plucked from the garden, dipping the chewed end in the sugar and eating it. The original Fun Dip.

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And who doesn’t love the strawberry-rhubarb combo? There’s a good recipe over at Canadian Living – a magazine and cookbook I grew up cooking out of, and another at Saveur, which is what I wound up using as a starting point. I love a jam that doesn’t require a box of pectin to set – I never seem to have one when I need it, and I prefer a runnier jam to the gelatinously stiff.

Whether you use pectin or not, sit by the stove. Enjoy your slow food time and check your email later. (Unless you have an iPhone in your pocket…)

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

5-6 cups chopped rhubarb
3 cups quartered strawberries
3 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Combine everything in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to medium low and cook, stirring often, until the rhubarb breaks down and the mixture thickens and turns jam-like. It should take about 45 minutes. To determine whether it’s ready, drop a spoonful on a cold saucer (put it in the freezer for a few minutes) – it should look like jam. If you like runny jam, leave it runny – if you like it thicker, cook it a little longer.

Makes about 8 cups.

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June 07 2013 07:42 pm | breakfast and preserves

17 Responses to “Strawberry Rhubarb Jam”

  1. Samantha on 08 Jun 2013 at 4:37 am #

    OMG – I so TOTALLY remember eating rhubarb like that as a kid. My parents were a little new age and didn’t let us eat candies (licorice sticks – real sticks) was about it for us, so being given an egg cup of sugar was amazing … the rhubarb was good too!

  2. Dahlia on 08 Jun 2013 at 5:58 am #

    My heart broke for you!

  3. Lori on 08 Jun 2013 at 8:13 am #

    Oh, the travesty! I live in an apartment and have been harassing my Facebook friends for rhubarb to no avail, then I read your tale of woe. There is no hope.

  4. Jocelyn on 08 Jun 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    This is definitely the saddest post I’ve ever read on any food blog ever. EVER.

    The good news is this: Strawberry season is just starting?

    I’m making Food in Jars’ Rhubarb jam with earl grey tea this weekend. I will save you a jar.

  5. Anonymous on 08 Jun 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Julie, Lil-M-Aide was around when I was a kid, and a fun pour into your hand treat to stick the other finger into and lick… I associated the name to kool-aide as a kid as that was disgusting to lick… it was sugarless in those days… so likMaide did the trick and was definitely a rare and guilty pleasure.
    The rhubarb into the sugar never worked for me. It was still just WAY to sour, but oh, how I do love my rhubarb puddings, pies, tarts, jams, cakes – you name it. I love ‘em all.
    Definitely a stalk that I consider to be a quintessential Canadian food… and am pretty sure we have some recipes in the prairies that few others have heard of. The strawberry rhubarb pie is one my grandma always used to make; until I tasted the rhubarb pie straight up, I thought it was just too sour to be on its own. But, it is my favourite.
    :)
    Valerie

  6. A Canadian Foodie on 08 Jun 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Julie, Lil-M-Aide was around when I was a kid, and a fun pour into your hand treat to stick the other finger into and lick… I associated the name to kool-aide as a kid as that was disgusting to lick… it was sugarless in those days… so likMaide did the trick and was definitely a rare and guilty pleasure.
    The rhubarb into the sugar never worked for me. It was still just WAY to sour, but oh, how I do love my rhubarb puddings, pies, tarts, jams, cakes – you name it. I love ‘em all.
    Definitely a stalk that I consider to be a quintessential Canadian food… and am pretty sure we have some recipes in the prairies that few others have heard of. The strawberry rhubarb pie is one my grandma always used to make; until I tasted the rhubarb pie straight up, I thought it was just too sour to be on its own. But, it is my favourite.
    :)
    Valerie

  7. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) on 08 Jun 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    That is a very sad story. We have all done it but it never feels better with company either. If you need a way to clean that pot, see my experimentation on my blog. Great choice for a Canadian food experience.

  8. Tanya on 08 Jun 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    I know the feeling, I was making wedding favors for my brother’s wedding two years ago. 80 1/2 cup bottles of blueberry jam and red pepper jam. I burnt a batch of red pepper jam. I feel your pain.

  9. Anonymous on 08 Jun 2013 at 11:05 pm #

    I’m with you. No pectin, just some lemon juice and watch the pot. Love filling up those odd little jars to save the flavor of summer for colder months.

  10. Nicole Boyhouse on 09 Jun 2013 at 8:07 am #

    HEARTBREAK!!

  11. Nicole @ Culinary cool on 11 Jun 2013 at 9:47 am #

    I used to love Fun Dip! I used to walk to the corner store with my grandma and buy a drumstick and fun dip!

  12. Rosemary (Chaos & Canapés) on 14 Jun 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    I’m glad I’m not the only one this kind of thing happens to. It’s awful when it happens, but I always look upon it as just another opportunity to make lemonade out of lemons. Glad you were able to salvage some berries, though.

  13. The Canadian Food Project: Round Up One on 16 Jun 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    [...] Van Rosendaal at Dinner with Julie from Calgary, Alberta, has invested herself completely into this project with all three of her [...]

  14. Hal Walker on 30 Jun 2013 at 10:33 am #

    I made this on my BBQ yesterday. It is wonderful!! Thx Julie!!!

  15. Gp on 09 Jul 2013 at 8:31 am #

    Does this recipe not use water?

  16. Julie on 09 Jul 2013 at 9:53 am #

    Nope – no water! The fruit is juicy enough!

  17. serenity on 19 May 2014 at 6:40 am #

    Lovely! Am going to make today. Just got some rhubarb from a friend, early in the season no less! What a surprise! Can’t wait to make. Thank you for your lovely site. Best to you~

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