I grew up in a house with a back yard and a small veggie garden and orchard as well. We grew strawberries, tomatoes and carrots and had the most beautiful apricot and cherry trees. It was an absolute heaven for all of us (the neighbours kids included). It was so thrilling playing in nature which went wild with different flowers during Spring and rich with fruits and vegetables during Summer. I still remember how I loved eating carrots straight from the earth but I also remember how I hated picking strawberries. I thought it wasn’t fair that that was especially my job, but being the youngest in the family made me pretty much in charge of it on a daily basis, during the strawberry season. I know that this isn’t a post about strawberry jam but every time strawberries are involved in any of my recipes I go back in time and see all this happening all over again.
This is to what I go back…It’s late May, beginning of June, the end of Spring almost beginning of Summer. The weather is just right to spend a whole day playing outside as often as we can. It’s the end of school as well, hurray! lets go to the gardens (yes we used to jump the gates and use all our garden as a play ground) and play until the inevitable call from the kitchen window will make us all rush back home to dinner. Those were the days of absolute freedom. Enjoying the sun, wind, play and laughter is all we did and it was magical. Being in contact with the soil, quite often with our bare feet and having our own duties was part of our days as well. One of mine was picking the strawberries. Being a very busy child (playing), I saw that almost as a punishment. I had to stop what I was doing and go back to the house for a dish (all a waste of time in my little head) and fill up the whole bowl with fresh strawberries. Oh, if I could only go back in time…
Rhubarb and strawberry jam
400 gr rhubarb
300 gr strawberry
1 green apple, chopped
350 gr raw sugar
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod, scraped
Always use fresh and good quality fruit for jams. The best choice is seasonal fruit, beside the fact that they are tastiest, you can get a pretty good price for it as well.
The easiest way to prepare jars is to wash them in a dishwasher, which is what I normally do or refer to Quince jam post for another option.
Wrap star anise and cinnamon stick in a cotton cloth and tie with cotton string, or just cook them as they are if you don’t mind them being part of the jam. (If you decide to use cotton wrap don’t forget to take it out at the end of the process). Wash rhubarb carefully, peel and chop into 2 cm pieces. Wash and hull strawberries as well. In a large pot add rhubarb, strawberries, apple and spices. Cook on a high temperature until it boils, then reduce heat and cook for 30 min. Add sugar and vanilla pod while cooking on a low heat for another 1 1/2 hour or until you reach desired thickness, stirring occasionally. I like jam to be quite thick and 2 hours is just what I need to reach that thickness but as always I embrace creativity, so make your own decision and jam. Once cooled pour jam into a clean jars and seal.