I have been slow to come to preserving fruit because it requires so much sugar and I have such a limited sweet tooth. But I am so enamored of Rhubarb that I knew I had to make some preserves just to have some on hand when it was no longer available fresh in the market.
In case you are wondering, the differences between jelly, jam and preserves is the following. Jelly is made from fruit juice boiled with sugar, jam is fruit mixed with juice and sugar and put through a food mill and pureed. Lastly, preserves are mostly whole fruits mixed with juice and sugar and boiled to create preserves. The best part about preserves is that it looks and tastes like fruit suspended in jelled syrup, more fruit like than pureed fruit.
I found a great recipe here . While I didn't follow it to the letter, it did work out nicely.
Don't let the timeline of making the preserves daunt you, it is totally worth it. The preserves are a perfect balance of sweet and tart, with the chunks of strawberries and rhubarb suspended in the jellied syrup.
A note on "jell point" when you're boiling the syrup. If you don't have a candy thermometer, drop the syrup onto a freezer-chilled plate and you'll notice that the syrup starts to jell. This generally happens after 5 minutes of boiling.
Rhubarb Strawberry Preserves
1.5 lbs strawberries
2 cups sugar
1 lemon juiced
1 1/2 lbs rhubarb, cut in 1 inch pieces
2 cups sugar
1 lemon juiced
1. Wash and hull strawberries cutting any extra large ones into uniform size. Place in a non-reactive bowl with sugar and lemon juice and macerate over night or until sugar is dissolved.
2. Strain, reserving the fruit in the bowl. Boil the syrup for 5 minutes, skimming as needed till you reach the gel point, 220-222 on a candy thermometer. Pour syrup back over strawberries and let soak again overnight. This allows the berries to absorb the syrup.
3. Prepare Rhubarb for maceration at this time. Wash and trim rhubarb and cut into 1” pieces (or larger to match your strawberry proportion). Place in a non-reactive bowl with sugar and lemon juice and macerate over night or until sugar is dissolved.
4. Bring strawberries and syrup to a boil, skimming as needed. Immediately turn off heat. Repeat this once more cooling in between.
5. Strain the rhubarb syrup into a preserving pan and bring to a boil. Skim. Continue boiling and skimming till you reach the gel point, 220-222 on a candy thermometer.
6. Add the rhubarb to its syrup and return to a boil. Skim. Continue cooking for 3-5 minutes, stirring, carefully to maintain the integrity of the fruit.
7. Combine strawberry and rhubarb preparations in one preserving pan (make sure pan is large enough to accommodate both and allow for boiling). Boil for 3-5 minutes stirring carefully. Skim.
8. Place jam in hot sterilized jars, seal and process in hot water canning bath for 20 minutes. Make sure lids sealed and label.
Makes 5-6 1/2 pint jars.