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May 8, 2017
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Raspberry Rhubarb JAM!
        IT’S RHUBARB SEASON! When I was a kid, we grew it on the side of my house. It came up every spring like clockwork. And we always did the same thing with it. We’d cut off the leaves, cut up the stalks, and cook it down with some water and a lot of sugar. After it chilled in the fridge, WE HAD A FRUITY PUDDING. We didn’t have many plants, so it was a special treat we only had a few times a year.
        We never used the leaves. My Mom told me THEY WERE POISONOUS, but I never knew why. I did a little research and learned that the leaves contain HIGH AMOUNTS OF OXALIC ACID, which can be VERY TOXIC to humans. SO DON’T EAT THE LEAVES! But, the stems have ALMOST NO oxalic acid in them, so they’re PERFECTLY SAFE to eat.
        Over the years, I’ve expanded my rhubarb repertoire. I really like combining other fruits with it. MY CURRENT FAVE---RASPBERRY-RHUBARB ANYTHING. Pies, crumbles, and this really easy to make jam. The touch of lemon and vanilla heighten the fruit flavors, and turn it into a special confection, worthy of being an ice cream topping, a cake filling, or spread on a humble slice of crusty, buttered bread.

LESSONS Learned:
1. This recipe requires some planning ahead, because the rhubarb needs to macerate in the fridge overnight. If you want it for your morning toast, start the night before.
2. The sugar amount can be adjusted. I opt for less sugar so the fruit flavors can shine through. But if you like a sweeter jam, feel free to add the higher amount.
3. This recipe can be doubled or tripled, just remember that the cooking time will be longer.
4. The jam freezes beautifully.

Raspberry Rhubarb JAM

2 ½ cups, about 3 stalks, cut into ½ inch pieces
2/3-1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon grated lemon rind (grate the lemon before you juice it!)
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch salt
1 ½ cups fresh raspberries, 6 oz.

Make the jam:
        In a medium size, non-reactive bowl, add the rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, zest, vanilla and salt. Stir to combine, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight.
        The next day, in a medium-size heavy bottomed pot add the rhubarb mixture. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes to dissolve the sugar and soften the rhubarb. Add the raspberries and cook another 6-8 minutes until thickened. Cool to room temperature.
        Store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week. Or freeze for up to 3 months.

Makes 1 ½ cups.     YUM!
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