Preserved: Raspberry Rhubarb Jell-O Jam
Note: Don't worry, the Edible DIY column isn't really going anywhere! While the fruit season is peaking, though, we'll turn this into a "Preserved" column with a focus on jams, jellies, and conserves. We'll get into sterilizing and processing jars, thickening jams with pectin (both regular and low-sugar), and thickening them without added pectin. —The Mgmt.
Rhubarb season is finally here! I don't know about you, but I can never get enough of its sweet-tart flavor and gorgeous rosy hue. This raspberry-rhubarb jam is incredibly easy to make thanks to a secret ingredient: a packet of raspberry Jell-O. Best of all, it's a freezer jam, which means you don't have to bother with sterilizing the jars or processing them in a hot water bath.
Here's a simple recipe you can make right this very minute using peak-of-the-season rhubarb. It's originally from the New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, but I've adapted it slightly to include a burst of fresh lemon zest and juice, and tweaked the cooking method a bit.
The most important step is to finely dice your rhubarb. Otherwise, you will end up with big undercooked chunks. I recommend cutting each stalk in half lengthwise, and then crosswise into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces. (If your stalks are especially fat, cut them lengthwise into thirds.) Also, once you add the raspberries to the jam, mash them up a bit with a fork or a wooden spoon.
You might be afraid that dumping a packet of raspberry Jell-O into this jam gives it an artificial taste, or makes it too sweet. Don't be. Trust me, you can't even tell it's there. The Jell-O helps to softly set the jam so that it's thick and spreadable without being drippy or goopy. The flavors are incredibly pure and fruit-forward, bursting with mouth-puckering rhubarb and sweet, sun-ripened raspberries.
This recipe yields approximately five 8-ounce jars. They will keep for two or three months in the fridge, or up to a year in the freezer. Of course they would make terrific hostess gifts, but I doubt you'll be able to part with even a single one. It's so ridiculously good, my husband and I have already polished off two jars in less than a week.