My rhubarb is up! As are about a dozen plants growing like crazy in our back alley, begging me to make something of them. When summer shows up I want to make preserves, and the glut of rhubarb is perfect for preserving – there’s only so much you can put in a pie, but you can turn a ton into rhubarb jelly. Which, it turns out, is very well received – every spring my niece, nephew and I make preserves for their teachers end-of-the-year gifts. They decorate the jars and wrap them in nice tea towels or other linens. Who doesn’t love homemade jelly? There is nothing more satisfying than stocking your shelves with homemade preserves.
I was recently on the receiving end of homemade preserves – a new recipe book full of them, that is. Yvonne Tremblay, a four-time Grand Champion Jam and Jelly Maker at the Royal Winter Fair, wrote a new cookbook, titled 250 Home Preserving Favorites: from Jams and Jellies to Marmalades and Chutneys. If I am going to seek jelly-making advice from anyone, I can’t think of anyone better qualified.
To make a jelly roll like the one above, bake white cake batter in a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet for 15 minutes, or until springy to the touch. Remove, cover with a tea towel and roll up both to cool. Unroll, spread the cake with jam or jelly, and roll back up. Dust with icing sugar. It’s easier than you think.
For the best flavor and color, use rhubarb that is very red. If rhubarb is primarily green, add red plums, which will contribute colour. From 250 Home Preserving Favorites.
12 cups chopped red rhubarb (about 4 lbs.)
2 cups water
2 red plums, thinly sliced (optional)
1 package (1.75 oz/49 or 57 g) powdered pectin
6 cups sugar
In a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pot, combine rhubarb, water and plums (if using). Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until fruit is softened. Use a potato masher to further break down fruit; simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour into a jelly bag and let drip overnight, without squeezing. If you don’t have a jelly bag, line a large sieve or colander with cheesecloth and strain through.
Measure exactly 4 cups of liquid (add water if there’s not enough liquid); pour into clean pot. Stir in pectin until dissolved. Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
Add sugar in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Return to a full boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Boil hard for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and skim off any foam. Ladle quickly into sterilized jars to within 1/4″ of rim; wipe rims. Apply prepared lids and rings; tighten just until fingertip-tight.
Process jars according to manufacturers directions. Check seals; refrigerate any unsealed jars for up to 3 weeks. Makes about five 250 mL jars.
*photo courtesy of 250 Home Preserving Favorites, published by Robert Rose.