As the perfect mixture of snarky and grumpy, my grandmother has always played an important role in my life. The older I get, the more I realize how large of a role this is; these thoughts quickly accompanied by depressing ones of eventually losing her. So, when she asked if I would like to help her make jam this evening, my answer was a very enthusiastic “yes”!
…I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
My grandma’s berry rhubarb jam has always been my favorite and by “favorite” I mean that I would eat it on anything. Rich in color with big chunks of blueberry, this jam is full of flavor that can only come from hard work and sweat. Be prepared for some small burns, a lot of cursing, and enough sugar to make you tearful.
Okay, okay, maybe i’m exaggerating (only a little) but seriously, nobody’s watching so throw on an old t-shirt and an oven mitt and prepare for battle!
Let’s get this started with a bucketful of celery’s charming little cousin, rhubarb. Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? Who knows? But it does give this jam the small kick we all need.
5 cups in a huge pot, followed by sugar, water, and quite a bit of heat.
It’s a lot of sugar. It’s enough sugar to completely cover the rhubarb.
Ready for a workout? Good. Because here is when things get crazy.
I need you to stop a moment, say a quick prayer, and promise me you won’t give up, okay? Because if you stop stirring and that sugar settles to the bottom you will have a huge mess and no delicious jam. Ready? Fantastic.
Stir this mixture until it comes to a roaring boil.
Once boiling proceed with caution because when I say “roaring boil” i’m talking the furry of a lion “roaring”. Set a timer for 3 minutes and continue; constantly stirring and scrapping the bottom of the pan.
Next up? Blueberries. I use one can of blueberry pie filling just to add a bit more sugar to the mix.
Here is where you will need the oven mitt. Remember “bubble bubble, toil, and trouble”? I’m pretty sure they were actually talking about making jam. This will need to be brought to a boil and then stirred for 6 minutes.
Finally, we need something to bind this all together; raspberry jello mix. 2 packs. And while you are constantly stirring this final mixture for yet another 3 minutes you can take a deep breath in and enjoy this beautiful smell.
And when that final timer goes off and a small tears slides down your cheek, you can remove your jam from heat and take a quick moment to stretch your poor arm.
But not too long, because it’s time for this jam to be jarred.
As a friend, I am asking you to be extremely careful. Use your handy dandy ladle to slowly fill each jar.
Note: you know you’re with old people when the jar’s are reused. This is not apple butter, nor is it olives. Sorry for the confusion.
Let these beautiful jars of blueberry gold sit out overnight to get nice and thick. In the morning you can freeze them to your liking.
Spread it over toast, an english muffin, a pb&j, or straight off the spoon. Enjoy this one true moment which proves that hard work really does pay off.
And if you’re lucky enough to still have your grandparents, ask them to show you how to create something. The time you spend together will be cherished and secret recipes will live on forever.
Thank you Grandma.
Grandma’s Berry Rhubarb Jam
5 cups chopped rhubarb
5 cups sugar
3/4 cups water
1 21-ounce can blueberry pie filling
2 3-ounce packages raspberry jello
In a large pot add the rhubarb, sugar, and water. Stir constantly over high heat until mixture begins to boil. Once boiling, set timer for 3 minutes and continue to stir constantly.
Add in blueberry pie filling. Once boiling again, set timer for 6 minutes and carefully continue to constantly stir.
Add in raspberry jello. Return to boil and stir for a final 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and carefully ladle into chosen containers. Let stand at room temperature overnight and freeze accordingly.