Strawberry Rhubarb Jam || Hitchhiking to Heaven

Strawberry Rhubarb Orange Jam

Did I fool you with my papier-mâché strawberry? Didn’t think so. But my berries were already mashed when I remembered I needed to take a photo with some rhubarb in it, so I thought I’d try to put one over on you.

Truth is, I didn’t devote a lot of time to the May options for the Tigress’s Can Jamasparagus or rhubarb. Asparagus, being green, was immediately off my list. (I’ll eat asparagus, but I don’t like it well enough to use good jars putting it away.) I’ve been getting to know rhubarb, and my appreciation for the sturdy, fruity vegetable grows every time I see another inspiring recipe. (Witness, for example, Rhubarb With Earl Grey Tea, Cardamom, and Orange Zest at Chez Danisse and Roast Rhubarb Tart from What Julia Ate — also, just posted and oh-my-goodness, these little gluten-free rhubarb tea cakes made by chef Helen Dujardin.)

Rhubarb and I do have a promising future. This month, however, I’ve been obsessed with strawberries. I bought three flats of organic Chandlers from Swanton Berry Farm in Davenport, California. (There’s still plenty of time, so get ‘em if you can.) I also got some beautiful end-of-season oranges from a neighbor’s tree. Here’s a photo of those lovely things, before the rhubarb showed up . . .

No disrespect to the rhubarb, but for this month’s Can Jam, I put it in service to my lustrous fruit and made a reduced-sugar Strawberry Rhubarb Orange Jam, using Pomona’s Pectin. I like this jam very much, and my trusty jam tasters — that is, all the friends and family on whom I could force it — have turned their thumbs uniformly up. It’s all about flavor. The strawberries are knockouts, the rhubarb is enriching, and the orange is a bright note that keeps the whole thing from getting too heavy. Finally, reducing the sugar means more intense fruit flavor overall.

The only thing I might adjust here is the texture. This jam is quite soft – not a puree, but very smooth. Some people prefer their jam to be relaxed in exactly this way. I like a more energetic jam; one that gathers itself up on the spoon and says, “Hey, look at me. This is the fruit I am.”

The soft texture may be due in part to the nature of the ingredients, but I’m guessing it’s also because I was a little bit scared of the rhubarb so I more or less smashed the hell out of it. I’m curious what would happen if I let the rhubarb soften but allowed it to retain more of its shape.

In any case, this one is a keeper.

Strawberry Rhubarb Orange Jam with Pomona’s Pectin

3 cups mashed strawberries (about 2 1/4 pounds, hulled)
3 cups softened rhubarb (about 2 1/4 pounds chopped into 1-inch pieces)
1/2 – 1 cup water
zest of 3 oranges, minced
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
3 teaspoons Pomona’s calcium water
3 teaspoons Pomona’s pectin powder

About Pomona’s: The calcium water mix and the pectin powder are both contained in the Pomona’s Pectin box, along with instructions for use.

1. Sterilize your jars.

2. Mash up the strawberries. I do this by putting them into a nonreactive pot over very low heat; they don’t require any added water. You can use any number of good mashing tools, but my confession is that I often scrub up like a surgeon and use my hands. They’re the best tool I’ve got, and they allow me to pull out any tough bits that might otherwise get left in the mix.

3. In a separate pot, combine the chopped rhubarb and minced orange zest, add a little bit of water, and simmer until soft and jammy looking (about 10-15 minutes).

4. While the rhubarb is simmering, measure out the sugar. Separate it into two bowls and thoroughly mix the pectin powder into one bowl. Set the other bowl aside.

5. Combine strawberries; rhubarb with orange zest; orange juice; and calcium water in your big, nonreactive pot. Bring the mixture to a boil.

6. Add the sugar with the pectin mixed in. Stir the mixture vigorously for 1-2 minutes to dissolve the pectin.

7. Add more sugar to taste, then return to the mixture to a boil and remove it from the heat.

8. Ladle the hot jam into your sterilized jars and process. I left 1/4 inch head space and processed 5 minutes, which is the appropriate time for my location. (Be sure to check the proper processing time for your elevation.) This recipe provides a good yield: 7-8 half pints.

Lots o’ berry jams going on around here this month: three kinds of strawberry plus a few versions of Blackberry Mojito:



I don’t know what I’ll do if the June ingredient for the Can Jam turns out to be strawberries. I might go ahead and faint.

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  • Reply Bridget May 16, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    You're so fructuous!

  • Reply Kate (@HipGirls) May 16, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Sounds amazing! Hmm. I really like how the rhubarb retained some texture in Linda Ziedrich's Rhubarb (Rose) Preserves recipe. I wonder if you might just cut the initial simmer time in half, because it only needs about 10 minutes on the stove (total) to soften perfectly, and a few minutes of that will be at the rolling boil. Just a thought.

    Can't wait to slather my way through my prize that's come in the mail, your Blackberry Mojito jam!!

  • Reply Denise | Chez Danisse May 16, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    Looks like a fabulous recipe. I love rhubarb soft, yet still retaining its shape. It's prettier too.

  • Reply Melanie May 17, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    This looks like a yummy recipe as does the blackberry mojito jam! :)

  • Reply SarahBHood May 18, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Will it really be a problem if you have to can more strawberries next month? Really? I'm still waiting for them to come into season here – can't wait.

    The recipe looks delish!

  • Reply Shae May 19, 2010 at 2:31 am

    Bridget: More fruit for me means more fruit for you!

    Kate: Indeed, I think your idea about reducing simmer time is a good one. I would try simmering to before the point where it feels ready, but probably wouldn't cut the time quite in half, because with Pomona's there really isn't much additional boiling after the fruit is combined — only one to two minutes.

    Denise: Thank you! I will buck up my courage and let it be rhubarbier next time.

    Melanie: If you'd like to try the blackberry mojito jam, stay tuned. When blackberries come in, I'll post a blackberry mojito recipe that doesn't involve letting the berries steep for a whole month!

    Oh, Sarah! I went through three flats, eight batches, and four different recipes . . . and apricots are coming. I have a feeling I'll see more strawberries, but I also feel okay about taking a break. FYI, three of those batches were Alec's recipe. ;-)

  • Reply Julia May 24, 2010 at 1:21 am

    How can you not be obsessed with strawberries when they are so incredible!? This jam is beautiful and you know it. And that bevy of jars is so pretty it could be, and will be, eaten up with a spoon!

  • Reply Gudrun May 26, 2010 at 4:27 am

    I wonder if the reduced sugar had something to do with the loose quality of the jam? I noticed the same when I used Pomona. The trade off of texture with lower sugar is one I am willing to make! The new lower sugar jam I could eat all day. Wish my rhubarb plant was doing better, I am interested in trying your recipe :)

  • Reply Shae May 26, 2010 at 6:04 am

    Julia: Thank you, my dear. And I'm swearing off strawberries at least until June. What's that, a week?

    Gudrun: I feel the very same about low-sugar jam, and I'm going to continue to pursue the texture question. I've been learning more about making low-sugar recipes without added pectin, but I still use Pomona's a lot. The only time I've ever experienced a very soft set is with the rhubarb and once with cherries. Otherwise, when I strictly follow Pomona's directions, I often end up with a set that's quite firm. (I'm looking for a middle ground here!) I got a good set on a strawberry orange (no rhubarb) jam I made this month with Pomona's. Go figure!

  • Reply Shae May 26, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Yet more about set: I edited the post this morning to add a close-up photo of the jam. I should have included it from the beginning, but I was traveling when I posted the recipe. So you can see the set is fine — it rounds up on the spoon like it's supposed to and it's not at all runny — it's just a very soft-shouldered jam.

    I learned yesterday (thanks, Jules!) that rhubarb has zero pectin. I'd bet that's part of the reason I get a soft set and gentle texture with the rhubarb recipes using Pomona's.

  • Reply AmyRobynne May 29, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Thanks so much for this recipe! I made a double batch this afternoon with a total of about 3 cups sugar. I love Pomona pectin and it was so nice to find a good rhubarb recipe that doesn't involve Jell-o. I have yet to see how well it sets, but I've never gotten rhubarb-based jam to set well with Jell-o based recipes, so I figure it can't be worse. The orange gives it a great zing. I'm currently using up last season's remaining frozen strawberries — I'm in Minnesota and although I just started picking strawberries in my backyard, it'll be a week or two before the you-pick farms open for business.

  • Reply Shae May 29, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Amy: Hello in Minnesota! I'm thrilled that you made this recipe. Very curious to know how it went to cut the sugar by half again and what kind of set you get. As I mentioned, I get soft sets with rhubarb and Pomona's but it's always worked for me. Hope you'll report back.

  • Reply Heidi April 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Thank you for posting! I made this today with just over 2 cups of sugar and got a pretty good set, firmer than yours. When I dig into the jar it leaves behind a hole. I also skipped using any water to boil the rhubarb in and just used the orange juice. I also cooked my rhubarb for longer, I got interrupted by a neighbor and ended up talking to her for about 20 minutes. It was fabulous, just what I was looking for.
    Thank you!!!

    • Reply Shae April 25, 2012 at 6:29 am

      Heidi: Thanks so much for your comment on this two-year old experiment! I think your decision to minimize the water was really smart. I find that I now like to use these flavors to make a jam without added pectin. I might write that up at some point, too.

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