There is something very satisfying when you see jars lined up on the kitchen table filled with homemade jams and jellies. I love the brilliant colors and look forward to enjoying summer flavors in the height of winter. My in-laws are good home canners. They taught me how to make jams and jellies. I love rhubarb and had an abundant crop this year because we had a cool, wet spring. I also love local sour cherries. Each year I buy a 25 lb. container of sour cherries for pie, break it down into 3 cup bags and freeze them for winter use. I used 2 bags of frozen cherries for this recipe. I used a family recipe for cherry rhubarb jam as a starting point, then came up with this variation. It is delicious. Some people like their jam with thick chunks of fruit; we prefer to have a smoother puree. Use an immersion blender to puree if desired. This recipe does not use pectin.
I also use a very nice English maslin jam pot that I purchased from Lee Valley Tools a few years back. It is a heavy pan with a handle, handle bail, and pouring spout, ideal for jam making.
Rhubarb Cherry Jam – makes 20 half-pint jars
12 c. chopped rhubarb
6 c. sour cherries with juice
12 c. sugar
Juice of 1 blood orange or regular orange
Place chopped rhubarb in an 8-quart stockpot. Add 1 cup water to keep rhubarb from sticking; you may need to add more water as you cook down the rhubarb. You do not want the jam to burn. Boil rhubarb until it falls apart, about 15-20 minutes. Add cherries with juice, sugar and orange juice. Cook 5 minutes to dissolve sugar. Use an immersion blender to puree jam. Bring to a boil and continue a hard boil for 20-30 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened. My husband’s stepmom mentioned a good trick for getting the right consistency for jam without using pectin. When you cook jam down, it is still fairly thin and it is difficult to know what the consistency will be like once it cools. This little trick was helpful in figuring it out. Cool a small plate in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Place a couple of spoonfuls of hot jam on it and place it in the freezer for 3-5 minutes. Remove from freezer. If the jam is to your desired thickness then it is ready. Remove from the heat. Place in clean, sterilized jelly jars. Process in a hot water bath for 20 minutes.