Do you remember the white rabbit from Alice In Wonderland? The very late white rabbit who Alice follows down the rabbit hole as he sings, “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say hello, goodbye! I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!”
I’ve been feeling a whole lot like the white rabbit – running late on everything and plummeting down rabbit holes with never enough time to do anything properly.
I’ve spent the past couple of weeks on the road, visiting my mother in Northern Ontario, then off to the New Quarterly’s writing retreat at Pine Cove (where I had the privilege of sharing this cabin below with two absolutely wonderful women), before heading to Ottawa, and now today, to Toronto.
I know when life gets like this – it’s time to get grounded again. Time to slow down, take the dog for a long walk, smell the lilacs, and get back into the kitchen – the place that keeps me anchored. With a couple of days at home this week, I managed to get some work done, some gardening sorted, and also spend time in my kitchen. I started with rhubarb and strawberry jam because I had a huge bunch of fresh rhubarb that I didn’t want to go to waste. I really love rhubarb, partly because, well, who doesn’t love perennials? Especially perennials you can eat. Plant it once and reap the benefits forever. But I also love the flavour of rhubarb – the tartness – and how well it freezes so that I can have a taste of my garden all year round.
Rhubarb also has a load of health benefits. It’s thought to aid weight loss, improve digestion, prevent Alzheimer’s disease, stimulate bone growth, avoid neuronal damage, increase skin health, prevent cancer, optimize metabolism, improve circulation, and protect against various cardiovascular conditions.
This rhubarb jam is beautiful in its simplicity. There are all kinds of recipes calling for the addition of kirsch or grand marnier or grated ginger, etc. etc. But all you will need here is an equal quantity of fruit and sugar and a bit of fresh lemon juice. You can vary the quantity according to the amount of rhubarb you have. I had about 750 grams of washed, trimmed rhubarb – hence my version below. It will take you half an hour all up from start to finish. The jam is divine. It’s old fashioned, tart, and perfect with scones.
Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam
- 750 grams of chopped, trimmed rhubarb
- 250 grams of washed, chopped ripe strawberries (adds colour and flavour to the jam)
- 1 kg of sugar (I think I actually used a little less than 1 kg – probably about 900 grams but if you are going to store your jam – you do need to use enough sugar to set the jam properly and thus prevent it from going bad – the standard ratio is equal quantities of fruit and sugar)
- juice of one fresh lemon
Begin by washing and sterilizing jam jars. I set these in the oven for about 10 minutes at 250 deg. F. In the meantime, bring the fruit and lemon juice to the boil in a large, heavy stainless saucepan. Cook over medium heat (hot enough to maintain a low boil) for about 10 minutes stirring frequently. Add the sugar and bring the jam back to the boil over med-high heat – taking care not to burn the jam, stirring constantly once the sugar is added. It will take about another ten minutes of cooking (20-25 minutes in total) for the jam to thicken and reach the jelly stage. For instructions on this check here.
Once the jam is sufficiently thickened, remove from the heat, stir for one minute, pour into sterilized jars, and seal immediately.