For the past six weeks I have watched our three giant rhubarb plants steadily spread their wings and grow, and grow, and grow in the back yard.
With leaves so big they block the stalks like the canopy of a rain forest, I have been pulling them back and peeking for weeks at the progress, and now, they are finally ready to harvest.
Last weekend I did a first cutting, and this weekend a second. Sunday afternoon I got to dicing and made a batch of rhubarb jelly, the first canning of this summer. I used this recipe http://www.rhubarb-central.com/rhubarb-jelly.html as a base but made some adjustments based on my previous experiences making jelly last summer.
Yield= (3) 8 oz. jars
- 4 cups rhubarb, chopped into, small, 1/2″ pieces
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 pouch powdered lower-sugar pectin
- 1/2 tsp. butter or margarine
In a non-reactive pan, combine the rhubarb and water.
Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes, and remove from heat.
Process the above mixture through a cheesecloth strainer, allowing juice to drip.
***To prepare strainer:
- Transfer liquid into a bowl and rinse out the pot you boiled the rhubarb in.
- Place one layer of cheesecloth over top of the pot side to side and secure with a rubber band.
- Place a second layer of cheesecloth over the first from top to bottom and secure with another rubber band.
- Now place the cooked rhubarb on the cheesecloth and drain juice into the pot.
Press firmly with wooden spoon to get out as much juice as possible.
- When finished, scrape off rhubarb into trash/compost and THEN remove the cheesecloth so there are no accidents in spilling rhubarb chunks into the juice.
- Measure juice, and if necessary, add water to yield 1 3/4 cups rhubarb juice. I added another 1/2 cup water.
Place three clean 8 oz. jars, discs, and lids in boiling water and boil hard for 5 minutes to sterilize the jars.
Transfer to a dish towel.
In a large, deep, non reactive pan, combine the rhubarb juice and all the sugar, and mix well to combine.
Over high heat, bring the mixture to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.
To reduce foaming, add the butter or margarine.
Add the entire pectin pouch.
Boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat, and quickly skim off foam, if necessary.
Immediately pour the jelly into the hot jars, leaving about
1/4″ headspace at the top of the jar.
Seal jars firmly and leave to rest of dish towel until cool. You should hear each jar seal with a “pop” within a few hours.
Place jars in refrigerator overnight before bed.
In the next 24 hours, your jelly should set!
I do not boil my jars again once they are filled with jelly, as many recipes call for. I have had bad luck doing this in the past, where my jelly never sets, and I’m not sure why (I made some awesome cherry mojitos with my jelly syrup, though!) I also don’t leave the jars out overnight on the counter to set, again I have had set-failures doing this. Putting it in the fridge works for me–it sets up within the next 1-2 days doing this. In addition, I typically use 2 cups of sugar mixed in with the fruit regardless of how much sugar the recipe calls for, and have always had success doing this. I just can’t justify adding 3.5 cups of sugar when 2 cups can work. As for storage, I keep the jars in the fridge and freeze the jars I know I won’t use within a month. These tweaks are simply what works for me at this time, and at this elevation, it may not work for all.
By Noon today my jelly was semi-set, spreadable, yet still a little runny. I busted open a jar and ate some off the spoon and it was fabulous! I am definitely planning to make another batch.