Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.
Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.
Sure, I know you're probably asking yourself - He's got it backward. Shouldn't it be strawberry rhubarb? You never hear of rhubarb strawberry pie? It's always strawberry rhubarb pie.
I have it correct inasmuch as here is more rhubarb in my jam by weight. As the dominant ingredient it goes first. I digress.
I have a large rhubarb plant adjacent to Jill's potting shed and one of the rites of spring is rhubarb-picking. Nothing beats rhubarb pie. And I've made a pretty mean rhubarb chutney. If you like rhubarb you are going to love this jam. Here's a really easy, step-by-step, illustrated guide to the process.
Since there is some minor prep work if you can plan to start this recipe the evening prior to a rainy day - that would be perfect.
Rhubarb Strawberry Jam
2.5 - 3 pounds of rhubarb - washed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2.5 pounds of strawberries - washed, stemmed and cut into halves
3 cups of sugar
1 lemon - sliced in halves
1 vanilla bean
Fill a large glass bowl with half of the cut fruit. Squeeze one of the lemon halves over all. (Pick out any lemon seeds). Add one half of the sugar. Repeat with the remaining fruit, lemon and sugar.
Split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape the pith out with the point of a knife into your bowl. Add the bean halves to the bowl too. Mix everything very thoroughly, cover with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge overnight. Better yet - 24 hours.
A word about the vanilla bean. Have you ever seen a night crawler that found its way under the garage door and dried out? That's what you're looking for.
A dessicated vanilla bean like this.
You can find these on the rack in the produce department at Metcalfe's Sentry. You will love the smell of the real deal.
The next day use a strainer to hold the soupy fruit and capture the juice in a large pot. Feel free to use a potato masher to squeeze as much juice as you can from the fruit. Set your fruit aside in a bowl.
I used my pressure cooker pot since it is big and has a heavy bottom to distribute the heat uniformly. Bring the strained juice in the pot to a boil and cook for 30-40 minutes. As it reduces - stir frequently. Your house is going to smell really good about now.
While cooking-down the juice go back to the bowl of fruit and pick around to fish-out the husk of the vanilla bean.
After the juice has been reduced to less than half of what you started-with add the fruit to the pot and bring it back to a boil. The mixture is going to have a foamy top like this:
Continue cooking until the mixture no longer foams and looks nice and jammy like this:
Remove from the stove top and ladle your hot jam into jars leaving slightly less than a half-inch of head space. Check to make sure that the rim of the jars are clean - top with lids and screw down the bands. Process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes.
Makes 8 half-pint jars of jam.
Putting it to the test on a toasted English muffin...
Helpful tips- Use non-reactive cookware. Near the end of the cooking process be exceedingly careful as your jam will be the consistency of molten lava. Watch your heat and be mindful of hot jam splutting from the pot. When canning - cleanliness is right up there with Godliness. A dishwasher will sterilize your jars. Boil water in a Pyrex measuring cup for sterilizing your lids. Make sure your lids have 'popped' before storing in your root cellar. I'd suggest refrigerating and using anything else within a month or so but it probably won't last that long.