Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
One of spring’s most beloved combinations becomes even more delicious with the addition of lemon and a vanilla bean. I use whole lemon slices, rind and all. The rind provides both extra pectin to help the preserves set and lovely bits to chew on. The speckles of vanilla seeds turn this into a stunner and add an aroma that makes you feel like you’re eating dessert.
In a large nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, bring the rhubarb, strawberries, lemon, and water to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup sugar. And then, since strawberries and rhubarb can vary in their sweetness, carefully take a taste and, if desired, add more of the remaining 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 the jam mixture, stirring occasionally, until the preserves are slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. (See our *How do I know when my jam is done? note below.) Skim and discard any foam that may appear on the surface. Discard the vanilla pod.
Divide the jam between 2 sterilized half-pint canning jars. Screw on the lids, let cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate overnight (before diving into it!) to allow the flavors to meld. You can keep your stash of strawberry rhubarb jam in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
*How do I know when my jam is done?
New to making jam? It can seem pretty daunting at first. That pot of scalding fruit lava burbling away might be enough to make you lose your bravado. But, hear us out, it's actually easy to know when to pull it from the heat. Our recipe tester Linda McElroy, an experienced home preserver, explains, you have a few ways to know when it's time to safely pull that fruit off the stovetop, or, in home preservers’ parlance, to “check the set.” Here are the options:
1. The spoon test—drag a wooden spoon through the jam. If the spoon parts the preserves, leaving a clean streak on the bottom of the pan, it’s done.
2. The freezer test—before you begin to make the jam, place a small plate in your freezer. When you think the jam is ready, drop a very small amount of jam from a spoon onto the chilled plate. If the jam 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.