I think the thought of making any kind of preserves can be a little overwhelming for some people, but its actually fairly easy. I think the most important things are accurate measurements and timing. Its also important to make sure everything is sterilized, but with dishwashers, its much easier. My dad said they used to have to boil the jars when he was growing up, but now we just throw them in the dishwasher on the sani rinse cycle.
I wasn't sure how this recipe was going to turn out since it was the first time I made it. The flavor is primarily strawberry. In fact, you probably wouldn't even know there was rhubard in it unless someone told you. It just has a little extra zip to it (which could be from the lemon juice as well). My dad really liked it as did my mom, who is among those that don't generally like rhubarb. I chopped everything pretty well, so most of it cooked down without lending the stringy/slimy texture that is common to cooked rhubarb. I think this helped my mom out as I much of her dislike of it is related to the texture.
Here is the recipe if you would like to try it!
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
from the Ball Canning Book
2 Cups Mashed Strawberries
2 Cups Choppen Rhubarb
1 Package Sure Jell Powder
4 T Lemon Juice
5 1/2 Cups Sugar
In a large stock pot, stir together all the ingredients except the sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Once at a boil add all the sugar at once (you will need to measure out the sugar before you begin). Bring the mixture back to a full boil stirring constantly. Once at a full boil, continue to cook for one minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Skim off any foam from the jam and ladle into prepared jars leaving one quarter inch head space. Wipe the rim of the jelly jar clean, top with lid, and screw on ring. Process filled jars in a hot water bath for ten minutes (make sure water is at a boil and the water covers the jars an inch beyond the top of the jar). Let cool. As they cool, you should hear the lids pop as the seal is created.
A couple notes...
- Jars should be sterilized before they are filled.
- Canning lids should be sterilized in a pot of simmering water before they are used.
- The canning lid will make a popping sound when the seal has been created. In addition, you can check to see if the seal has been created by pressing on the canning lid after it has cooled. If the center of the lid clicks when you press down on it, it has not sealed (its similar to jarred food you would buy in the store. If the safety seal has been broken, it won't make the popping sound when you open it).
- It is important to bring the jam to a full rolling boil once you add the sugar. You should not be able to stir down the bubbles.
- Use a larger pot than what you think you will need. The mixture boils up a lot in the pot and there is nothing worse than having to clean up jelly/jam from your stove if it boils over!
You can find more detailed information about canning at http://www.freshpreserving.com/.