Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Recipe: QT's [mostly] Sugar-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam

Okay, I'm repeating myself now - but in the interest of separating "Content" from "Ramblings" I am re-posting an old recipe (originally posted here: http://imqtpi.blogspot.com/2011/06/more-randomness.html)

I'm probably gonna re-work it again into something suitable for long-term (non-freezer) storage, but here it is:

"QT's [mostly] Sugar-Free Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam"

2 lbs fresh rhubarb. Cut into 1/2" pieces
4 cups strawberries, sliced and smushed
2 packages No-Cook, Freezer-Jam Pectin
3 cups granulated Splenda (+/-)
1 Tbs Lemon Juice (optional)
sprinkling of sugar (I'd say no more than 1/4 cup).

I made the jam in two batches.

2 lbs of rhubarb will yield just-shy of 4 cups of fruit - after it's cooked down. So batch #1 was probably 50/50 rhubarb and strawberries. Batch #2 was definitely more strawberries and much sweeter (hence the addition of Lemon Juice).

Slice up the rhubarb and put it in a bowl. Sprinkle a tiny dusting of real sugar on top and toss it together (the real sugar seems to help start the rhubarb "sweating"). Then sprinkle 1 cup of Splenda on top and toss it all together again. Let it "set" for about an hour so the rhubarb starts releasing it's juice. One of the recipes I'd read suggested leaving it overnight (and that might improve the overall tartness - but I wasn't that patient!).

Glistening Rhubarb (after sprinkling sugar and Splenda on it)

While the rhubarb is juicifying (I'd rather just call it "sweating!"), clean and top the strawberries. Slice them up in a bowl until you have appx 4 cups. Then sprinkle a little "real" sugar on top to get them juicifying as well. The strawberries don't have to sweat for that long, though.

Once the rhubarb started sweating, I went back and stirred it around a few more times. Then I dumped it all into a large saucepan and heated it up on low. I think low and slow is best - to facilitate releasing the juice. Eventually, the juice started to exceed the rhubarb chunks and began to boil. I kept the heat very low and stirred frequently. It all turned into a lumpy mash after about 20 minutes or so. I taste-tested it and determined that the sweetness-to-tartness quotient was just about perfect! The texture was mostly mushy with a few small (soft) chunks of rhubarb.

Yep! Perfect!
(This is the texture when it's time to take it off the stove)

Remove from the stove and let it start to cool. While the rhubarb was cooling, I started mashing the strawberries to get 'em softer. I did not add a significant amt of sugar, nor did I add Splenda to the strawberries.

Once the rhubarb mash was warm (meaning it wouldn't burn if I stuck my finger in it), I dumped the strawberries into the pot and stirred everything together.

In a separate clean bowl, I mixed 1 pkg Pectin and 1 cup of granulated Splenda. Then I added 4 cups of the Strawberry-Rhubarb mixture into the Pectin/Splenda mixture. Stirred it thoroughly for 3 minutes. Then poured the jam into 8 oz plastic freezer-jam jars, using a canning funnel. Make sure you leave appx 1/4" of space on the top because the jam will expand when it freezes.

Then I went to make the 2nd batch and quickly realized that I didn't have 4 cups of fruit left in the pot! So I quickly sliced and mashed more strawberries, and mixed 'em in with the rest of the fruit until I had 4 cups. Unfortunately, I don't have exact measurements - "Oh well!"

Anyway, I did the same thing with batch #2 (mixing Pectin/Splenda, adding fruit, mixing, etc.). I did determine that batch #2 was sweeter than I wanted, so I added a tablespoon of lemon juice to 'tarten' it up a bit!

End Result: I got 10 x 8oz jars of Freezer Jam, I did mark the jars with the different batch #'s so I can taste-test 'em later.

Yum! 1st taste test (after an hour in the fridge). Batch #1 is Perfecto-mundo!
Texture, tartness and sweetness are *just* right!
Now I wish we had some warm sourdough to serve it on!

I'll probably re-post *again* when I re-jigger this to a "Processed Jam" recipe.

(Ummm... In case you couldn't tell, I freaking LOVE Strawberry Rhubarb!)

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