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Spring and summer are the beginning of the canning season. I love preserving and using what is growing in the garden to enjoy throughout the rest of the year.
Much of the tradition of preserving came from a time when families had no option but to use the foods that were in season and find resourceful ways to feed the family during the winter. Preserving in today’s world is mostly for fun, but also for knowing all of the ingredients that go into the recipe.
Rhubarb was, is, and always will be a staple at my house. Most Midwestern farms have large patches of rhubarb and are used to baking with the tart stalks. It’s technically a vegetable, but the tart, almost sour flavor is a fun one to use in jam.
What is jam vs preserves vs jelly?
Here’s the difference between all these types of fruit spreads:
- Preserves have large pieces of whole fruit with a thinner consistency.
- Jelly is simply a thickened fruit juice.
- Jam is a mix of the two: thickened pulp from the fruit with some pieces.
I often chose jam because it’s all-purpose. I use it in baked goods, frosting, and spread it on toast. I love some pieces of fruit and a naturally thickened spread.
How is jam thickened?
The quick way to thicken jam is to use boxed pectin. The mixture is pretty simple: some fruit and sugar cooked together. Add the box of pectin and it instantly thickens. But I find the end product to be too thick and gloppy.
Instead, this recipe for jam is thickened by removing the fruit from the collected juices while cooking. Once removed, the remaining juices are cooked until they reach 221°F. At that temperature, the added sugar and the fruit juice thicken up to the perfect consistency. No boxed pectin needed!
The result is a rhubarb-forward jam with just enough tartness to balance out the sweet!
Watch how to make this rhubarb jam
How to Can Rhubarb Jam
- 4 lb rhubarb
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp lemon zest
- 3 tsp orange zest
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup orange juice
- red gel coloring
- In a large heavy-bottomed stockpot, combine the rhubarb, sugar, lemon zest, orange zest, lemon juice, and orange juice. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Keep at a low boil, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and strain the juice. Reserve the rhubarb. Return the strained juice to the stockpot and cook until the temperature reaches 221°F.
- Once at the correct temperature, add the reserved rhubarb back to the juice and return to a boil. Cook for 2 minutes just to heat the rhubarb.
- For canning: Immediately pour the hot jam into warm sterilized jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean cloth and add the lids and rings according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Boil in a water bath: 10 minutes for 8 oz jam jars and 15 minutes for pint jars. Remove from the water bath and cool on a rack for 24 hours before removing rings. Store for up to one year.