Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

This strawberry rhubarb jam relies on lemons for pectin, vanilla for loveliness, and a simple technique to make the best small-batch preserves ever in just half an hour.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam Recipe

Those who are fondly familiar with Sarabeth’s strawberry rhubarb jam know well the spectacular sight of those iconic jars lining the shelves at specialty grocers. There’s always an array of flavors, although if you’re anything like us, strawberry rhubarb was always your favorite (closely followed by apricot). You can take comfort knowing that this is her recipe. You’ll be even more tickled to know that not only can you make this strawberry rhubarb preserves at home but it takes a mere half hour to put up a small batch. And unlike most recipes for this summer staple, this one contains lemon slices, rind and all, as well as speckles of vanilla seeds for added intrigue across the board—we’re talking texture, taste, and lord oh lord that intoxicating fragrance.–Renee Schettler Rossi

How To Tell When Jam Is Done

If you’ve yet to make jam, knowing how to tell when a pot of scalding hot fruit that’s burbling like lava is ready to pull from the stovetop may seem a little daunting. But it’s actually ridiculously easy. As recipe tester Linda McElroy, an experienced home preserver, explains, there are a couple ways to ascertain when you can safely pull the preserves from the heat, or,  in home preservers’ parlance, to “check the set.” Here are your options:

1. There’s the spoon test. Drag a wooden spoon through the jam. When the spoon parts the preserves like Moses’ staff did the Red Sea and leaves a clean streak on the bottom of the pan, it’s done.

2. There’s also the freezer test. Before you begin to make the jam, place a small plate in your freezer. When you think the jam is ready, allow a very small amount of jam to drop from the spoon onto the chilled plate. If the jam mounds and doesn’t spread (or spreads very little) and you can draw your finger or the spoon through it and leave a clean streak on the plate, the jam is ready.

Special Equipment: 2 sterilized half-pint canning jars

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 30 M
  • Makes about 2 half-pint jars


  • 8 ounces (227 grams) rhubarb, tough strings removed with a vegetable peeler, stalks cut into 1/4 inch (6 mm) slices (1 1/4 cups)
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) strawberries, hulled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into slices 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick (1 1/3 cups)
  • 1/2 Meyer lemon or 1/4 regular lemon (1 1/2 ounces or 42 grams), cut into slices 1/8 inch thick and seeded
  • 1/4 cup (56 ml) cold water
  • 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups (150 to 300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean


  • 1. In a large nonreactive saucepan, bring the rhubarb, strawberries, lemon, and water to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  • 2. Stir in the sugar. (It’s best to start with 3/4 cup and then as the mixture simmers, carefully take a taste and, if desired, add more sugar a little at a time.) Using the tip of a sharp knife, split the half vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape the seeds into the mixture, and then toss in the pod. Continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the preserves are thickened slightly, 10 to 15 minutes. Skim and discard any foam on the surface. Discard the vanilla pod.
  • 3. Divide the jam between 2 sterilized half-pint canning jars. Screw on the lids, let cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate overnight to allow the jam to develop its flavors. Use within 2 weeks.
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Recipe Testers Reviews

This is an extremely easy way to make a quick batch of strawberry rhubarb jam. I usually feel like I need to devote half a day when I make jam, but this recipe makes 2 small jars. My total time was literally 20 minutes! You could probably process the jars if you wanted to, but it won’t be hard to go through this small an amount of jam in a couple of weeks. You could always freeze 1 jar. I loved the addition of lemon slices, which mostly fell apart, and the vanilla bean. This really takes strawberry rhubarb jam to a whole new level. It’s dessert-quality jam! I admit that I was alarmed when I saw it called for up to 1 1/2 cups sugar. I started with 3/4 cup and then decided that it could use another 2 tablespoons. You could probably go up to 1 cup sugar if you wanted. The jam was slightly tart, but that’s how I like it. The jam thickened perfectly and was not at all soupy, as is sometimes the case when I reduce the amount of sugar called for in a jam recipe. I used a 12-inch skillet in place of a saucepan so the liquid would evaporate rapidly. After I added the sugar, the jam only took 5 more minutes to thicken. When you drag a wooden spoon through the jam and it parts ways and leaves a clean streak on the bottom of the pan, you know it’s done. But I also did the freezer test to confirm. Place a small plate in your freezer when you begin to make the jam. When you think the jam is ready, drop a very small amount on the chilled plate, if it mounds up and doesn’t spread (very much) and you can draw your finger through it and leave a clean streak, the jam is ready.

This recipe takes strawberry rhubarb jam to the next level! I've made strawberry rhubarb jam for years using the standard recipe that comes in the liquid pectin recipe insert and I have always been pleased with the results. This recipe takes things up a few notches. The addition of lemon rind and vanilla give the preserves more texture and depth of flavor. The jam took 20 minutes cooking to reach the proper consistency and then I stirred the jam for an additional 5 minutes once I took it off the stove to keep the fruit suspended before pouring it into the jars. I tested the set using two ways—checking the temperature was 220°F and putting a spoonful on a cold plate and seeing if it gels. The recipe yielded a full pint of delicious, fresh, vibrant jam. Total time was 1/2 hour to preserve the taste of spring!

I made this recipe with 3/4 cup sugar, 8 ounces rhubarb from the garden, and 8 ounces local strawberries. It simmered for 15 minutes and although not really thick it had thickened enough to be preserves. (I feel preserves should not be really thickly jammy but slightly thickened, however, that's just my opinion.) I got two 500-ml jars. For me the fruit stars in this reduced sugar version and I would heartily recommend it.

Rhubarb + strawberries = summer. Even if your rhubarb is not bright red (varieties can be speckled or mostly green), the strawberries will make the result a pretty color with the sum greater than the parts. For my first batch, I needed 2 good-size stalks rhubarb to get the 1 1/4 cups sliced rhubarb, though my stalks were thickish. I did peel tougher strands away in stripes, and when the rhubarb cooked, it turned to jammy smoothness although the strawberries held a bit of shape. If you had very tender, narrow stalks, I would not remove more than the trimmed ends, no extra peeling required. I used 3/4 cup sugar and found the result plenty sweet. To check the "set," I looked for a single point where it dripped off the spoon and how it set up on a chilled plate. I error towards fresh flavor rather than a thick and sticky consistency. Chilling overnight firmed the preserves and intensified the flavors. These preserves go nicely spread on toast, dolloped into yogurt, or spooned over ice cream. I will even use a spoonful muddled into a long sparkling drink with club soda or gin and tonic. My yield was just under 3 half-pints. For small batches such as this that will be eaten soon, I just store the jam in the refrigerator and skip the canning. I would normally divide the vanilla pod in pieces between the jars, a visual reminder of the flavoring, but I obediently removed it (and used it to infuse something else!). The lemon is nice to include—it integrated well as the slices softened, adding flavor and texture and complementing the vanilla. Half-moon slices would be nice. The strawberry rhubarb preserves set up nicely after being refrigerated. My second batch I substituted whole blackberries for the strawberries (227 grams each of the berries and the sliced rhubarb) and I reduced the sugar to 140 grams. The color was gorgeous (even though my rhubarb was mostly green) because the berries dyed the whole batch. That batch yielded almost a pint and a half, which set up thinner—more saucy than jammy—than the strawberry rhubarb jam.

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