Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam (1)

The combination of strawberry and rhubarb is nothing short of genius. Food needs to be balanced–salty, sweet, spicy, tart. The combination of sun warmed fresh strawberries and blood-red crisp rhubarb is the ultimate combination of sweet and tart. For me , it’s the perfect dessert. I LOVE dessert and would never skip it if I could. BUT, I’m also not a fan of super sweet things. I stay away from many pies, often laden with extra sugar. While a small square of dark chocolate is perfectly satisfying, I want nothing to do with milk chocolate. Strawberry rhubarb pie is pretty much my ideal dessert. But of course, its something only so perfect in season. A strawberry rhubarb pie in winter, filled with California strawberries and rhubarb from who knows where just isn’t the same. When I can’t enjoy something fresh year round, I preserve it. And my beloved pie now takes the form of jam.

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Jam Season is Here – Lavender Strawberry Jam

Fresh Strawberries

With June comes berries. First the strawberries trickle in, slowly followed by blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and cherries. By mid July we’re practically swimming in berries–certainly not a bad problem to have. But as quickly as they arrive, bursting from every stand at the greenmarket, they soon disappear, leaving us with regret. Wishing we had just one more piece of strawberry shortcake, another bite of that raspberry cobbler or another scoop of blackberry sorbet. We try to fool ourselves with California berries during the winter months, but it’s just not the same. While we might not be able to get fresh local berries year round, we can preserve them.  A jar of homemade strawberry jam is beyond perfection. You’ll never glance at those Welch’s jars again.

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Rustic Living Without my Kitchenaid

Brooklyn is beautiful, but everyone needs to get away once in a while, even me. Our aunts were kind enough to give us a week’s stay at a family cottage up in Maine, and two years later, we’re finally cashing in. The cottage is beautiful—a 120 year old pine and spruce cottage, sitting on the lake, in the middle of the woods. No phones, cable and no internet (but a creative internet setup thanks to a healthy cellular connection).

We’re about an hour north of Bar Harbor, so there’s plenty of good food (read: seafood) in the area, but I love vacationing where I also have the opportunity to cook. As we were packing, I thought nothing would be better than enjoying tea and fresh scones for breakfast in our little rustic cottage. So I brought some of my homemade strawberry rhubarb jam and planned to make scones and fresh cream at the cottage.

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Strawberry Season

I’m such a sucker for strawberries. First berries of the season and I HAVE to have them. $8 a quart? Sure, I’ll pay whatever you ask, Mr. Farmer. Of course, one quart can’t satisfy my fix, so I keep buying more (luckily after that first weekend, prices get way more reasonable), and pretty much live on strawberries for the month of June. Although this year, I was able to enjoy some in May too thanks to our freakishly mild winter. The growing season’s a bit off and everything is popping up early, which means I might get some tasty Maine blueberries when I’m up there in a few weeks, but that’s besides the point.

So far I’ve made strawberries with fresh cream, strawberry ice cream, strawberry pancakes, strawberry preserves, but my favorite? Strawberry Rhubarb Jam. What I didn’t realize until I started caring more about where food came from and how it grows, was strawberries and rhubarb aren’t exactly in the same growing season. They just fit so naturally together, yet rhubarb’s a bit earlier and strawberries come later, so there’s usually a brief window to catch the two. This year they lined up perfectly! I’ve made two full batches of strawberry-rhubarb jam so far, and if I can wrestle up some more berries, I might just have to make more this weekend. It’s like pie in a jar–no toast or scones even required (though it’s probably a bit more acceptable to serve it on something rather than spoonfuls from the jar like I might…).

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