Rhubarb is in season, read on to learn how to make no pectin strawberry rhubarb refrigerator jam the easy way. For years I resisted making my own jam because I didn't want the hassle of a canning process.
One evening while on a walk I was listening to a favorite podcast, the guest was Nigella Lawson and she talked about how to make easy refrigerator jam, no canning required. Oh, happy day I was going get my jam on!
How to make refrigerator jam
For a small batch, I end with just enough for one jar in the refrigerator and one jar for the freezer. For this recipe, I use 2 cups strawberries, about a 1-pound container and 3 cups fresh rhubarb which is roughly 8 rhubarb stalks. Add 1 cup sugar to the fruit, mix, and let sit for about 45 minutes to release the fruit juice.
I don't use added Pectin, instead, the acidity of the lemon juice works with the sugar to jell the pectin already present in the fruit. Cornstarch is added when cooking to help with thickening.
The prep is easy and you have homemade jam in under an hour.
Cook the fruit over low heat and stir as little as possible. I found that less agitation and a long slow and low cooking process gives me a better result. It still take less than 40 minutes of cook time. Once it’s done, all you have to do is wait for it to cool, pour it into jars and slap a lid on the jar.
Test the jam to see if it's reached the jelling point. If you have one, test using a candy thermometer, when mixture reaches 220 degrees it's ready. Alternately you can place a spoonful of jam on a small plate and freezer for a couple of minutes, remove the plate and slightly tip. If the jam doesn't spread, it’s ready.
Selecting the fruit
The jam is only as good as the fruit, so make sure to pick nice ripe strawberries and fresh or frozen rhubarb. A jam made from unripe fruit won't taste like the fruit, and it just ends up being really sweet. Shop the farmers market for the freshest ripe fruit possible and it's easy to taste test before buying.
Ripe strawberries will, well, smell like strawberries, and have nice red color allover. If the tops are white or have a greenish tint the fruit was picked under-ripe.
You can't really tell if rhubarb is ripe by looking at the color. Actually, the color is more of an indication of the variety of rhubarb. The fresh rhubarb I find in the supermarket its usually the red variety with a just a bit of a green tint. Rhubarb stalks should be firm with no leaves attached, rinse well and cut off about an inch from each end.
Prepare the Jam Jars
I use 8-ounce quilted freezer-safe regular mouth, and ½ pint (8 ounces) wide mouth mason jars for my jam. Even though I'm not preparing for long term storage, mini sterilization of the jars and lids seems like a good idea. Since I'm not going through the canning process I replace the band type lids with a one-piece lid which is easier to take on and off.
Boil a pot of water and lower the jars and lids carefully into the pot and let boil for a few minutes. Pull the jars out carefully and let cool. Use canning jars and lids, as you need to use a jar that is safe and won't crack during the boiling process.
I'd love to hear from you, let me know how your jam turns out!