Thursday, June 28, 2012

Homemade Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

We went for a prayer weekend 3 weeks ago and during that weekend, the women got together to help the nuns harvest and process fresh rhubarb (called rabarber in Dutch) from the garden into rhubarb jam.

It was my first time seeing rhubarb in real life (no kidding!), I never knew such a plant exists. It was really funny cos when they were chopping the rhubarb in the kitchen, I happened to pass by and I asked the ladies if we were having celery soup for lunch. The ladies were pretty amused by my question, and they were probably too polite to tell me that there is no such thing as a red celery. :)

So I came back with a huge bag of rhubarb and a pot of rhubarb jam, thanks to the ladies. The rhubarb weighed 4 kilo in total and after giving away 3 kilos to friends and relatives, I still had 1 kilo left which I only managed to process them only 2 days ago. After removing the rotten pieces, there were just 500g left, which I combined with 500g of strawberries and processed them into 4 jars of strawberry-rhubarb jam. 

Rule of thumb which I learned from the nuns: 1 packet of pectin and 1 kilo of sugar are to be added to every 1 kg of fruit. That is easy to remember, isn't it? You need to add that much sugar because firstly, a lot of sugar is needed to sweeten and neutralise the sour taste of rhubarb; secondly, sugar is absolutely necessary to preserve the jam, the more the sugar, the longer the jam will last.

Luckily, there is this pectin product called "Imperial Pec PLUS" which I bought from the supermart. With this "Imperial Pec PLUS", you can make jams with half a kilo of sugar (instead of 1 kilo if you use the usual "Imperial Pec" without the PLUS), or even zero sugar for every 1 kilo of fruit, and you only need to let it boil for 1 minute, at least that's what they advertised on the packaging. Also, with the addition of sweet strawberries, I can safely reduce the amount of sugar by half without adversely affecting the taste of the jam.

According this website, strawberries belong to the group of fruits which require pectin for making jams. If you are making jams using other fruits, do check on internet if the fruit itself has enough natural pectin concentration to make into jams without the addition of pectin.

So here is my recipe for homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam :

Ingredients (makes 4 jars)
500g rhubarb, chopped
500g strawberries, hulled
1 ripe banana, chopped
500g fine sugar
1 packet of pectin

1. Wash and clean the rhubarb and strawberries. Chop the rhubarb into 1 inch pieces and use a sharp knife to remove the green leafy top of the strawberries (called the hull) and the pale flesh directly beneath it.

2. Place 500g of rhubarb, 500g of strawberries and 1 ripe banana into a big pot over low-medium heat. At the same time, pour in 1 packet of pectin (Imperial Pec PLUS). Stir constantly to avoid burning. (There is no need to add water as strawberries will soften quite easily and produce enough fluid to cook the jam. But if you are only using rhubarb, then you need to add just a little bit of water, about 1 cm, to cook the rhubarb).

3. As soon as the fruits start to soften and boil, add in 1/2 kilo of sugar slowly and stir thoroughly.

4. After 1 minute of boiling, you can pour the cooked jam into sterilised jars, screw them tight and leave them to cool to room temperature before putting the jars in the fridge.

Note that steps 2, 3 and 4 are the written steps on the packaging of the pectin, but I actually took 30 min to cook the jam. Reason? I didn't know that pectin will only set upon cooling, and as the strawberry-rhubarb jam was still runny and not thick enough, I kept stirring it and cooking till it was thick enough. I wonder how much vitamins have I killed in that 30 min of cooking? Anyway, good lesson learnt. :)

The nuns told me that this homemade jam will stay good if left untouched in the fridge for 6 months or so, and once opened they should be kept in the fridge and should be consumed within 2 weeks or so. I filled 4 jars of strawberry-rhubarb jam (370g each) and my little boy likes it so much that within 3 days, the 1st jar is already gone!


  1. is the banana flavor prominent? i love strawberry rhubarb jams - in fact that's the only jam i make (i usually add some green apples and lemon to increase the natural pectin since i don't use pectin). adding bananas sound really intriguing!

  2. The addition of banana to the jam was something which I learnt from the nuns in the abbey.

    Well, since I knew there was banana in there, so I could taste the banana flavour. But for those who didn't know, they probably couldn't taste it. Hubby even said the strawberry flavour was so overpowering that he couldn't taste the rhubarb in there. :)


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