A friend of mine lent me a pressure cooker to use with my canning. I decided to take it to the extension office of Washington State University to check the seals, pressure gauge, etc. I asked them for a reference on using my pressure cooker and they lectured me not to experiment with it. The ladies told me only use an “Approved researched recipe” when canning. So for your information, I’m noting that the ladies at the WSU extension do not approve of Sugar High Friday and think that these experiments might be dangerous.
This admonition took some wind out of my sails from making Strawberry Rhubarb jam with a friend last Friday. I dutifully gathered up the available publications from WSU and went in search of the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. I ended up having to order it on Amazon – with a few other cookbooks of course!
My Strawberry Rhubarb jam was inspired by a comment from my pastor’s wife. She said that it would be awesome to have strawberry-rhubarb pie bottled as jam. I contemplated that while searching my cookbooks for canning recipes. I looked in Joy of Cooking – which I was informed I should not follow it because their health and safety precautions are outdated – and The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook – which is newish but mostly freezer jam. These stirred the creative juices and I came up with the recipe below. I grabbed the box of low sugar pectin, measured the rhubarb and cooked it down, added Strawberries and something wonderful came out.
I now stare sadly at my jam. My husband, David, and I had some with our pancakes this morning and both agree that it tastes wonderful. It has just the right balance of sweet and tart, strawberry and rhubarb. The dilemma remains: will it need to be refrigerated to be safe to eat? Are my previous canning experiments dangerous? I feel this is only a test of how tough my stomach got from living overseas. So far the test has been delicious and my husband thinks that the WSU warnings are just to cover their bases. Preliminary trials of this experiment suggest that it will be long gone before anything bad will happen to it and it will certainly be gone before the Plum Jam from last summer. Since it is taking up my nice wide mouth half pints, I might have to chalk that up to experience and toss it.
From now on I will rigidly follow all canning instructions in any book I get my hands on. Since two are on their way to me right now, I eagerly await their arrival. Then start canning with renewed fervor.
This morning’s pancakes and David’s reassurance have eased my doubts a little, so I am including the recipe. You may make it as a freezer jam, or can it at your own discretion.
At my home we have our very own rhubarb plant. It was split from my husband’s best friend’s plant in the middle of July. We do live in Washington State and the hot weather almost killed it, so I don’t recommend doing this. It has survived and given us many wonderful pies that my David is so famous for.
Storage: Trim off the leaves and dispose of them since they are poisons and only good for setting natural fabric dyes or cleaning stains. If you get yours from the grocery store, skip on to the great debate of fridge or freezer. They need to be tightly wrapped in plastic and can be kept for up to 3 weeks in the fridge. If you can not use them in that amount of time, cut them into 1 inch or smaller slices and freeze them in a bag for up to 6 months. Of course you can dry or can this precious veggie at once.
Uses: Hmmm….I remember my introduction to Rhubarb Applesauce in Holland. It was so good. If I can find a recipe, I will post it on this blog. Rhubarb can be treated as a veggie or a sweet. Pies, Jams, Compotes, Sauces, Quick Breads and the like are the typical treatment for this red beauty. It is used less traditionally in some great soups, stews, or savory dishes., Some people even eat it raw like celery.
Flavor Enhancers: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Berries, Apples and Pears
Health Notes: High in Vitamin C, Fiber and Potassium. The Center for Disease Control considers these something that you should include in your diet to attain the 5-A-Day Veggie requirement.
Safety Notes: Don’t eat the leaves or roots or you can become very sick. A little girl ate some at my mother-in-law’s daycare to impress a boy in the group. She got sent home with instructions to watch her closely. Use non reactive pans when cooking or it will create a very unappetizing appearance and contain metal it flaked off by its acidity.
Rhubarb Strawberry Jam my way
6 cups Rhubarb (cut into 1 inch sections)
4 cups sugar
1 cup water
Simmer for 30 minutes until the Rhubarb has broken down into an applesauce consistency. Taste to adjust for sweetness. This one had a good balance of sweet and tart.
Add 2 cups of hulled strawberries to the pot. Simmer till strawberries soft about 2 hours.
Add one package of low sugar pectin. Cook till mixture sheets off of a spoon.
Fill Sterile Hot Jars and Process in Boiling Water Bath for 15 min. Remove immediately when done and place on a rack or dishtowel to cool overnight. Check the seals. If seals are not tight, place in fridge or reprocess by heating the mixture and cleaning the jars and using new seals.
This recipe was a loss variation on a freezer jam.
PS Alanna over at Veggie Venture has put together a great list of Canning Tips