If I wanted to be cute (always!), I would have called this jam, “A Strawberry Ran Through It.” I had the rhubarb a-stewin’ and thought, what else can I add? There was a partially full freezer bag of some very lovely strawberries that had been in the freezer since last summer. Chucked them in. Well, that was nice but I didn’t have enough to make much of an impact. What else?
Then my eyes lit on the basket of peaches. Do rhubarb and peaches even go together? Sweet and tart. Juicy smooth and… stringy? WHY NOT, said I. So that is pretty much how this recipe came to be. And turns out, these ingredients do go together quite nicely.
16 c chopped rhubarb
3 c peeled and chopped peaches, peels and pits reserved
1 ½ c strawberries
6 c white sugar
1 T vanilla extract
muslin bag or cloth
16 ½ pint (250 ml) mason jars
16 snap lids and rings
Directions for cooking and canning:
Wash your Mason jars in hot soapy water. Rinse well. Since your jam will be boiling in the water bath for 10 minutes, you don't need to pre-sterilize.
Put your rhubarb in a large pot along with about ½ cup (125 ml) water and heat it gently on med-low heat, stirring occasionally.
As the rhubarb begins to cook and releases its moisture, you can turn up the heat a little without fear of scorching. I was doing other things around the main floor, popping over to the pot to stir every once in a while for at least 30 minutes.
Probably a good time to start your water bath heating. If you have hard water, add a splash of white vinegar to prevent scaling on your jars.
Add your strawberries (I didn’t even chop them, just threw them in frozen but that’s probably not the best idea) and your peaches. Stir, stir, stir.
Put your peach peels and pits into a muslin bag or a few layers of cheesecloth, and tie it tightly together. Into the pot it goes. Boil hard for 1 minute while stirring, navigating your spoon around the bag.
Using the knowledge gained from my amaaazing raspberry jam, I decided to heat the sugar. This time I used the microwave instead of the oven, heating the sugar in a large glass bowl in 30 second increments, stirring between, until it was hot to the touch. Then the sugar gets stirred in, about a third at a time, into the jam pot.
Bring back to the boil (don’t stop stirring!) for 5 minutes.
Add the vanilla extract and stir in well.
Test if the jam is ready to gel:
♦︎ Use a candy thermometer, and when it hits 220ºF (105ºC), the jam is set, or
♦︎ Put a plate in the fridge to chill. When the jam looks as though it's almost set, take a teaspoonful and put it onto the cold plate. Push the outer edge of the jam puddle into the centre with your index finger. If the jam wrinkles even a little, it will set.
Put the snap lids in hot water to soften. It doesn't have to be boiling.
Assuming your jam is gel-ready, remove the bag, and try to scrape the tasty jam that clinging to the outside of it back into the pot. Stir and skim foam from your jam for a few minutes until it’s clear on the surface.
Quickly ladle hot jam into hot jars, using a wide mouth funnel. Leave 0.5 cm headspace.
"Bubble" each jar with a skewer or chopstick to release any trapped air. Wipe each rim with a clean paper towel dipped in vinegar. Place the snap lid down and screw the ring on fingertip tight.
Put the jars into your water bath canner. Make sure there is at least an inch of water above the top of your jars. Put the canner lid on and return to the boil for 10 minutes. Don't start your timer until the water is boiling.
Remove jars from the canner or let them sit in the canner until everything calms down.
Make sure all the jars are sealed before you put them away. Any that still haven’t popped to seal by the next day go in the fridge.
If you make this recipe, or something similar, let me know what you think. I really don’t know if the whole muslin bag with peels etc makes a difference in adding to the pectin level or not. None of these ingredients are particularly high in pectin so I wanted to give as much of a boost as I could. And I wanted to use all the rhubarb I had in one big, glorious batch so I didn’t feel like fiddling with the multiple batches – and additional sugar – commercial pectin would require.