Cookbook of the Month, March: The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves by Linda Ziedrich
When life gives you a bucket of oranges, make rhubarb-orange jam. Is that how the saying goes? I recently found myself free on a weekend morning with an excess of oranges and quite honestly I had been itching to do a big kitchen project just for the joy of making something from scratch and spending the day tending to a lost art like home canning. Life can be busy and sometimes I crave a day to slow down. For this particular recipe, I got so excited about slowing down that I tried making way too many jams and marmalades and way too large of a quantity of them and there I was at midnight finishing the canning process. But the real truth is that it was worth it, because what person doesn't like to receive the gift of unexpected marmalade or have a few jars in the cupboard to shmear on toast, add to a cake layer, or to dress up an otherwise boring cheese platter? And those jars are exactly what I excitedly gifted away to my extended family once I was finished with my marathon marmalade day.
If I fast forwarded to my 70's, I'd love to be the type of lady that lives on a ranch with a bunch of fruit trees and a multitude of various jams to give to my grandkids. So I see days like these as a service to that goal. I'm honoring my inner old lady, because sometimes one needs to take the time to do that. Otherwise, fast forward to my 70's and my jam recipe would never get perfected in time for the grandkids. A few years back, my parents gifted me a whole series of canning books and this recipe comes from one of them: "The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves" by Linda Ziedrich. This book has a lot of great recipes, but I chose the Rhubarb-Orange as one of my recipes during the Saturday jam-athon because whenever I see rhubarb around, I jump at the chance to cook with it.
Rhubarb Orange Jam, adapted from "The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves" by Linda Ziedrich:
- rhubarb stalks, 2.5 lbs, cut into 1/2 pieces
- water, 1/2 cup
- orange, zest of one each
- orange juice, 1/2 cup
- sugar, 3 cups
Method: Before you start, take 3-5 small plates and stick them in your freezer. You will use this later to test the consistency of your jam. In a stainless steel pot, combine the rhubarb, water, and orange zest. Cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes to tenderize rhubarb. Turn off heat and add orange juice and sugar. Stir to incorporate ingredients over medium heat, until sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and stirring occasionally, boil the jam until it mounds in a chilled dish, using the plates in the freezer. (Note: For a bit more information on this process, check out this link to the Kitchn's "7 Tips to Make Sure Your Jam Sets Up". It gives you a good overview of the chilled plate test.) Ladle the jam into pint jars. If you want to can the jars*, process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.
Finally, think long and hard about who will be the lucky recipients of your jam jars!! This is by far the best part of the long process. Happy canning!