I love the Home Counties. For me, they hold great charm. Village fêtes, farm shops, afternoons sipping cider at the pub, bake sales, plant sales, hedgehog sanctuaries, Sunday lunch, cricket teas, thirsty vicars, vintage cars, and the scent of wood burning fires wherever you go.
Walking past Shardeloes en route to The Red Lion makes me feel like I am deep in the country. The truth, though, is that I am only an hour outside of London. It’s brilliant and gives me a proper excuse to wear my wellies without looking like a knob.
This weekend in the Garden of Eatin’ (that’s what I call my in-laws’ backyard as it is so full of edible goodness), my daughter explained the difference between bluebells and forget-me-nots to her stuffed friend, Little Bear. There was also an overabundance of rhubarb. When my mother-in-law asked me to help by cutting it for her, I was happy to be of service.
8 jars of jam and a crumble to be eaten later tonight was our yield. And to think, there’s still plenty left.
Below is my recipe for today’s rhubarb and strawberry jam. The strawberries I used were not our own, but they were British (Honi soit qui mal y pense) and came from 2 of the home counties–Kent and Berkshire.
3 lbs rhubarb, cut into 1″ pieces
1 lb strawberries, halved
juice of 2 lemons
1 cup apple juice
1.2 kg sugar
1 tbsp butter
First, place a small plate in the freezer. This is so you can test your jam later to see if it’s set.
Wash then sterilize your jars by placing them on a tray in a warm oven.
Place the rhubarb, lemon juice, and apple juice in a maslin pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. The reason for this is twofold. 1) Rhubarb takes longer to cook than strawberries. 2) Both rhubarb and strawberries have such low pectin that the addition of apple juice, which naturally has high pectin, will help your jam set.
Turn off the heat and stir in the berries and the sugar. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved.
Turn the heat back on and bring everything to a boil.
Test for a set by placing a bit of the molten mixture on your frozen plate. Place the plate back in the freezer. Remove it after a few minutes. If the jam crinkles when you push it with your finger, then it has set. If not, continue cooking for a few more minutes and test again. Be sure to turn off the heat each time you test for a set. You do not want to overcook your jam.
Once a desired set has been achieved, stir in the butter. This will prevent your jam from being scummy.
Let the jam cool for at least 5 minutes before potting it in warm jars.