Around Abbys Table How to Make Grandmas Jam

Description: My Grandma and I in New Mexico on old Route 66

Published: 11/17/2020
Byline: Hart

Around Abby's Table

Rhubarb Jam

(Grandma New's recipe)

Many summer weeks of my growing years were spent in the San Louis Valley with Grandma New. We always had great fun with her. I followed her everywhere in those days; around my uncle's store, in and out of the kitchen, barefoot through her garden. To my child's eye she had a HUGE yard and garden. What I remember the most are the giant lilac bush, the baby's breath, and the patch of rhubarb. We dried many bundles of the baby's breath, and added lots of lilac blooms to our hair, and always had a stick of rhubarb and a bowl of white sugar. Oh that tart rhubarb made sticky sweet by the sugar. I can still taste it-can still feel the sticky red juice running down my chin-can still smell her backyard-can still hear her voice calling us in. Just thinking about it, and I am ten years old again and a hot sticky mess. “Just a little more sugar Grandma......PLEASE!”

I always looked forward to Grandma's strawberry/rhubarb jam. It was a favorite of mine. As a young girl I can remember watching both of my grandmas' can. Tomatoes, jams/jellies, pie filling, green beans, oh and pickles (Grandma Moody made the best pickles ever). I was impressed, it seemed so very hard to do. And outside was so much fun! But, I loved the smells, and the tastes of the all the goodies put into those jars. As I grew older I wanted to learn how to can. I lost Grandma Moody before I could learn from her. Then I became a wife and a mother. All of a sudden it seemed important to learn.

Grandma and I spent hours over the phone going over recipes and steps. I read the Ball Home Canning books. I bought some jars, pulled out the deepest pot I had (for a water bath), and set about making pear sauce. Oh wait, this isn't the first time canning story......After some practice with the pears that grow on the tree in my back yard, a round of apples, then some mulberries the next spring. Some of these first time tries were.....well that will be another story. Not many turned out well. On the phone with Grandma one day. I told her I couldn't seem to get the pectin right in my recipe. Also it kinda tasted funny. Yes, Grandma agreed that pectin added a taste to the jams and jellies, that is why she also used jello when she made jam. That was why her jellies always tasted different and where never as thick as others. She gave me her recipe and I make my jams and jellies almost the same way.

Grandma New's rhubarb/strawberry jam

    • 5 cups rhubarb

    • 6 cups sugar

    • 1 package strawberry Jell-O

Chop rhubarb into half inch thick pieces. Place rhubarb in big mixing bowl. Add your sugar. Cover and set a side. Let the rhubarb and sugar mixture set for a few hours or even over night. It will make a syrup. Now place the mixture into a pot and cook. Bring to a boil stirring constantly until rhubarb is tender. Add package of strawberry Jell-O simmer for five more minutes. Ladle into to hot jars and follow instructions for water bath canning. If you do not plan on storing this jam on the shelf you do not need to water bath the jars, but then they MUST be stored in the refrigerator.

This is a jam not a jelly. It will not be very thick, if you would like a thicker jam add a second pack of Jell-O. Also the rhubarb will be more “whole” fruit it won't be smooth like the grape jelly you get in the store. This is a good jam for pancakes. Every time I make it, I am a small girl in Grandma's garden again, with lilac and baby's breath in my hair and sticky rhubarb smile. “Just a little more sugar please.....Grandma.”