At this time of year there are certain days – damp and cold and dreary days – that make you wonder if summer will ever come. That’s when you want some of this Rhubarb, Strawberry and Lemon Jam, flecked with candied pieces of fruit, on your breakfast toast. Or dolloped on top of yoghurt. Or even, ahem, eaten straight from the spoon.
Rhubarb has been on stream for a while now but, after pouncing on my first Irish strawberry last week, I couldn’t resist this recipe from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now. The book is well named: I’ve had to go off and do exactly that with several of her recipes already (Grilled Sausages and Celeriac Salad with Hazelnuts is especially good) and there are a whole heap left to try as I work my way, chapter by chapter, through the months of the year.
Crispy Brown Butter Mushrooms are on the menu for a stash of fresh fungi from Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms, Melissa has got me looking at pot roasting in a whole new light (Pot Roasted Lamb with Meyer Lemon) and I’m going to have to talk to my local butcher about getting beef short ribs for her Chilli Coconut Braised Beef Short Ribs.
Rhubarb, Strawberry and Lemon Jam
There isn’t a lot of pectin in either rhubarb or strawberries so this is a soft set jam, which makes it easier for stirring through yoghurt or spreading on scones. Leaving the ingredients to stand, or macerate, overnight leaves you with little chunks (depending on your chopping!) of preserved rhubarb and strawberries dotted through the jam.
Rhubarb – 350g, rinsed, trimmed and chopped into 1cm pieces
Strawberries – 175g, rinsed, trimmed and chopped into 1cm pieces
Sugar – 425g. I used vanilla caster sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Put the chopped rhubarb and strawberries into a large bowl and mix through the sugar, lemon zest and juice. Give an occasional stir and leave to stand overnight.
Making the jam
First prepare your jars – this amount will fill 3-4 small 150ml jars. Wash them in hot soapy water, rinse and dry. Preheat the oven to 160°C and sterilise the jars by heating them for 10 minutes. Lids will only need 5 minutes.
Put a saucer into the freezer for testing.
Sieve the fruit/sugar mixture into a wide saucepan. Reserve the fruit for later, bring the juice to the boil over a medium heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until it reaches 110°C on a sugar thermometer. Tip in the fruit, bring to the boil again and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
Test for setting by dripping a little jam on the cold saucer. Set aside for a minute then, if the jam wrinkles when pushed gently with your finger, it is ready.
Pour the hot jam into hot jars, up to within 2cm of the top, and seal immediately with the hot lids.
Makes: 3-4 small 150ml jars.
Adapted from Cook This Now by Melissa Clark.