Summer has officially arrived! It sure didn’t mess around about its arrival either, at least not for those of us on the east coast of the U.S. anyway. Today marks the third day of 90+ degree weather in Rochester, which makes this an official heat wave. Not ideal weather for much of anything except lounging and eating ice cream, especially if you are over 8 months pregnant like me.
The beginning of summer also marks another milestone for our household (and lots of others out there)–the end of school. My oldest son graduated from preschool and will be attending kindergarten this fall. My second son “moved up” to his final level of preschool. There were ceremonies with lots of cute singing in homemade hats, and proud moments remembering how much they have grown this year.
All of this wonderful progress is directly related to all of the hard work put in by their dedicated teachers. The weekend before their graduation/moving up ceremonies it dawned on me that I wanted to thank their teachers in some kind of tangible way. I wanted the gift to be thoughtful, enjoyable, and useful. Also, since there were a lot of teachers to thank, it couldn’t be too expensive or I’d end up busting my budget. I had given them homemade cookies at Christmas time and they had seemed to enjoy those, so I thought another homemade food gift was in order. So I turned to a family favorite: strawberry-rhubarb jam. I put the jam in quarter-pint jars to give to the teachers, a sweet little token of gratitude. I wish I had had more time to come up with a cute label, but a “thank you” written on the lid in Sharpie still got the message across. Thanks to all the teachers out there for everything you do to help our kids grow and learn!
Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam (adapted from my grandma’s recipe)
- 5 cups chopped rhubarb
- 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
- 4 cups sugar
- 2 (3 ounce) packages strawberry gelatin
- Essential equipment: 2 large pots/Dutch ovens (1 for boiling jars, 1 for cooking the jam), 1 medium saucepan (for boiling the lids), pair of tongs, rubber spatula, ladle, cooling rack, small plate, oven mitt, 6 half-pint canning jars with rings & lids
- Optional equipment: canning funnel, jar lifter
- Wash the canning jars, rings, & lids in hot, soapy water. Rinse well. Place the jars in a large pot and fill with water until the jars are covered by a few inches of water. Cover the pot and heat to a low boil. Place the rings & lids in a medium saucepan and fill with water until the rings & lids are covered by a few inches of water. Bring to a low boil.
- Combine the rhubarb, pineapple, and sugar in a large pot/Dutch oven. Place over medium-low heat and stir gently until the rhubarb has released enough juice to dissolve the sugar. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook the mixture for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, once it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin.
- Use tongs (or jar lifter) to carefully remove one of the jars from the hot water bath. Set the jar on a small plate near the pot of jam (the plate protects your countertop from heat & spills). Place the canning funnel in the mouth of the jar (if you don’t have one, omit this and you’ll just have to be careful not to get the jam on the mouth of the jar). Ladle the jam into the hot jar, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove the canning funnel (if using). Use the tongs to remove a lid & ring from the hot water bath. Assemble the ring on the jar and screw closed (you might want to use an oven mitt while doing this). Set the filled jar on a cooling rack.
- Repeat step 3 with the remaining jars & lids/rings until you have filled all the jars (you might have a little jam left–store it in a container in the fridge and use within a month). Let all the jars cool completely. You will hear lots of “popping” as the jars cool–this is because the lids are sealing. After the jars have cooled test them to make sure that each jar has sealed properly–press your finger on the lid and if it doesn’t move, your jar is sealed. If it “pops” or moves in any way, the jar hasn’t sealed properly. Sealed jars can be stored on a shelf for up to a year (or even a little more); unsealed or opened jars should be refrigerated and consumed within a month.
Makes: 6 half-pint jars of jam
Time: This depends on how fast you are at prepping the jars, chopping the rhubarb, and filling/assembling the jars. You should probably set aside 1 1/2-2 hours to do this project, especially if you are new to canning.
Note: This recipe can be doubled.