This jelly was a small-batch experiment, and it came out great. If you are a pie person, you must make this. It tastes like, well, it tastes like the gooey stuff in rhubarb pie that’s not the fruit part or the crust- the stuff in between the strawberries and the rhubarb. It’s tangy and sweet, with a good punch of lemon from all the fresh lemon juice. And since it’s jelly and not pie, somehow it falls into the “socially acceptable to eat for breakfast” category.
I’m definitely going to make this again in much larger batches and with a little bit of tweaking (maybe some cinnamon?), but this recipe is a perfect jumping off point. Plus, there’s absolutely no added pectin, and whenever I make jelly without added pectin I feel like I’ve really accomplished something big in my life.
makes: 1/2 pt. (plus a little extra)
- 1 c. chopped rhubarb
- 1 lb. crabapples, chopped in half
- 6 c. water
- 1/3 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 2 c. sugar
1. In a large, non-reactive pot, combine the rhubarb, apples and water. Cover, and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes. Your whole house will smell like freshly chopped rhubarb and it will be amazing.
2. Transfer the cooked fruit and water mixture in a jelly bag to strain for 12 hours, if you have one. You could also use cheesecloth. I don’t have either of those things right now and I hate spending money, so I do it this way:
A picture is worth a thousand words, but let me try to explain what I did in much fewer than that… Grab yourself a clean pillowcase (unless you want fun stuff in your jelly) and slip it over a large, nonreactive pot. Twist the base of the pillowcase and fasten with a rubber band or some tape. Pour the cooked fruit and liquid mixture into the pot. The cooked fruit will stay on top of the pillowcase and a rich, flavorful juice will slowly drip into the pot. Put the lid on top of the pot (but don’t press down on the fruit or the jelly will get cloudy later) and leave it to sit for 12 hours.
3. After 12 hours is up, undo the pillowcase and lift it off of the pot. You could save the mushy fruit for making muffins or breads, but I fed mine to the chickens (because there’s only 24 hours in a day and I already made jelly, damn it. I don’t want to make muffins too). You should be left with a really wonderful, aromatic juice.
4. Bring your boiling water canner to a boil. In a large, nonreactive pot, combine the rhubarb juice with the sugar and lemon juice, and cook on high until it reaches around 220 degrees on a candy thermometer (ha! I don’t have one of those either, and I make jam professionally). If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can do the frozen plate test, like me. Put a few small plates or bowls in the freezer before you start cooking the jelly. When the jelly is really boiling like crazy and you think it might be ready, put a teaspoon of jelly onto one of the frozen plates. Wait 30 seconds. Run your finger across the jelly on the plate. If it’s ready, your finger will make a wrinkly line through the cold jelly on the plate. If the jelly just stays liquid and there’s no wrinkling, cook it for another few minutes and try again.
5. Ladle the jelly into clean, hot jars. Wipe rims clean, and screw on lids. Process half-pint jars for 5 minutes, unless you want to eat it right now, in which case you should go get a spoon. Happy canning!
NOTE: This recipe was just a very small test batch, which I always do when I am finding new jams and jellies to bring to the farmers market. When I make it next time, probably in a month or two when there’s more rhubarb in the garden, I will definitely double or triple it, which I would encourage anyone with enough rhubarb to do, since getting one jar of jelly can be kind of anti-climactic.