Sunday, October 24, 2010

Unprocessed: Strawberry Rhubarb Jam with Honey

This recipe is a bit out of date, but seemed just so perfect for Unprocessed October that I had to share it. While the fruits I used are past season, for me this is a simple jam that can easily be thrown together with just about anything you come across at your farmer's market or even with fruit you may have frozen from the summer.

About a month ago I walked my little pooch, Stella to our local Farmer's Market it was a gorgeous Indian Summer day and I wanted to take advantage of one of the last market weekends of the season. While visiting one of my favorite organic farm's stand a bunch of rhubarb caught my eye.  The red and green were so vibrant it was impossible to resist.  We of course bought some of Stella's favorite liver treats too.  The next stand had local honey, now not just local to Ontario but local to Toronto, gathered from hives in the Portlands where I often work.  I din't even know we had honey that was that local and had to snatch it up immediately.   I have a bit of a honey problem, I buy some everywhere we go and have amassed quite a collection of honeys from California to Vermont to all over Ontario.  I am far from a honey expert, but I love the different flavors honey can have and how it almost has it's own story.  The Portlands honey was very light in color with a strong floral flavor.  I wanted to drink the whole jar right there.

At our last stop I saw some beautiful fall strawberries, likely the last of the season and picked them up too. On the walk home I thought about what I could do with my purchases.  Yes, a pie seemed obvious or maybe even my Strawberry Rhubarb Upside-down cake, but neither idea felt right.  I decided that I really want to use my market ingredients in the most basic way without adding to much to them.  They were so fresh and perfect that aside from just eating them all raw I thought jam would be the best way to combine the bounty of the day.   I know honey is not the best sweetener for setting jam, but as I prefer a softer set it doesn't bother me, plus it lets me make jams from almost all local ingredients and keeps them unprocessed.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
makes 1 quart

1 bunch rhubarb - sliced (approx 4-6 stalks)
1 quart strawberries - hulled and quartered
8 oz local honey
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick

1. Place all ingredients in a large heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  I called mine done when everything had broken down and just started to thicken.  Jam will be loose, but you want to be careful not to over cook.
2.  Place in jars and process in a hot water canner for 5 minutes.

This jam is a bit tart due to the amount of rhubarb, but I love when jam has a bit of a bite because I find it goes well with cheese.  I forgot about the jam for awhile, another reason why this post hasn't happened until now, but the time that it sat in jars in my basement really melded the flavors together.  The cinnamon really gives it that fall harvest feel, and yet the strawberry and rhubarb taste like the end of summer.  A fresh piece of bread spread with this strawberry rhubarb jam brings images of sunny late summer afternoons, breezes with the promise of fall and a cool glass of white wine on our back deck.

Make this simple jam, clean out your freezer or buy some frozen fruit to make it.  I promise you won't regret it.   I will likely have to unless I hoard what I have to get me through until the spring!  I love that I made this even before my unprocessed October.  It just shows that pledge or not I really strive to keep things unprocessed.  I love jams with honey and can't wait until next summer to experiment with them more.

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