Sunday, June 7, 2009

Background Rhubarb Jam

My family has a farm box subscription through Penn's Corner, which I love to pieces. I've had other farm subscriptions before that did not work out as well. Too many greens, too many tomatoes, not enough variety. Penn's Corner has given us eggs frequently, cheese, loaves of bread, fresh pasta, in addition to herbs and greens and strawberries and.... rhubarb.

Rhubarb always seems somewhere between a luxury and a curse in the farm box. It's not the kind of thing you see at the grocery store every day and I think it has a relatively short season. However, it's also not the kind of thing you can quickly saute and serve, since it absolutely needs a decent amount of sugar and to be cooked into something before it tastes good.

With this weeks' rhubarb, I was determined to make jam or jelly of some variety. It was a busy week, though. My husband was sick, and then had to work a lot of nights, and is now in San Fransisco. This did not leave lots of time to make jam. Enter Freezer Jam Pectin.

Ball makes this, and also some freezer-safe jam containers for you to use with it. I improvised this recipe, based on a handful of possible internet recipes. It's tasty, a bit luxurious, and did not take much time at all, easily cooking away in the background.

Rhubarb Peach Vanilla Freezer Jam
makes 4 jars

  • 1 envelope freezer jam pectin
  • 1 bunch rhubarb, chopped
  • 3 peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (divided)
  • 1 vanilla bean

  1. Measure out the chopped peaches and rhubarb. It should be 4 cups worth of fruit, roughly chopped into chunks no bigger than a centimeter cubed.
  2. Combine the fruit and 1.5 cups of sugar in a saucepan, cook over medium to high heat until the fruit comes to a low boil. Give this a stir with a wooden spoon every so often while it cooks for 10 - 15 minutes. The fruit will lose structural integrity and start to get a bit jelly like.
  3. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean* and mix with 2 tablspoons of sugar. You may need to use your fingers to get this well combined. Empty the packet of pectin into the sugar/vanilla mixture and slowly incorporate into the fruit mixture.
  4. Ladle the finished jam into the 4 freezer jam jars. Put 3 in the freezer (for up to 1 year) and stick the other in the fridge so you can start eating it right away.
  5. Feel totally awesomely accomplished. You are the modern incarnation of Laura Ingalls Wilder! And you did it all while you were waiting for the dryer to finish and while your kid watched one single episode of Yo Gabba Gabba. You're a rock star.
*Get the seeds out of a vanilla bean by slicing it open with the point of a paring knife, legnthwise. Now you have two long bean-halves. Use the flat of the knife to scrape the very teeny black seeds out.

As a bonus, you can keep the remaining vanilla bean halves in a quart mason jar full of granulated sugar. After a few weeks, you will have tasty vanilla sugar in addition to your freezer jam.

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