The other day I reminisced as I gathered rhubarb to make a batch of delicious Homemade Rhubarb Strawberry Pineapple Jam. As know by now, my Mother has always been an avid gardener. Ever since I was a little girl she has grown just about every vegetable you can think of in her gardens. Yes, I did say gardens!
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My mother loves gardening and every year she planted in three separate garden plots. Dad always tilled the gardens every spring while Mom strategically planned what vegetables would be planted where and when.
Now, at the age of 86, both she and my Dad still plant a garden every spring. However, through the years they have cut back to one small garden.
This year they recruited their great-grandson to help plant sweet corn. He loved helping them! Maybe he will have his own garden plot someday.
One of the vegetable Mom always has an abundance of in her garden is rhubarb. Rhubarb is a perennial plant (the kind that grows from year to year) which forms large fleshy leaves and produces stalks similar to celery.
According to the Michigan State University – Rhubarb is an ancient plant traced back to China in 2700 BC. It was used for medical purposes as a laxative, to reduce fever and cleanse the body.
Rhubarb can be eaten raw, but because of its tart flavor, it is more often cooked and sweetened with sugar. It is called the “pie plant” because one of its most popular uses is as pie filling. The leaves of rhubarb should never be eaten because the leaves and roots contain a toxic poison called oxalic acid.
Harvesting rhubarb is actually fun. There are two ways to harvest rhubarb. One way is to use a sharp knife to cut off the stalks. The second way is to gently pull and twist the stalk until the stalk breaks off from the plant.
Try to pick stalks that are at least 10” or longer. The deeper the red color of the stalks, the more flavorful. The larger stalks are not as tender and stringy as the medium-sized stalks.
To ensure that the plant has enough energy stored up to make it through the winter, never harvest all the stalks off your rhubarb plant. After cutting the stalks from the plant, cut the leaves from the stalk and throw them away. NOTE: Remember that the leaves of the rhubarb plant are poisonous and should never be eaten.
Harvesting rhubarb generally begins in April and May and is available through early summer.
When cooking fresh rhubarb, remove any brown or scaly spots, trim ends and wash thoroughly. Also, do not use aluminum, iron or copper pans because the high acidity will react with the metal. This causes the rhubarb to turn a brownish color and also discolors the pan.
Before storing rhubarb, remove the leaves from the stalks. Refrigerate unwashed stalks, tightly wrapped in plastic for up to three weeks.
Did you know that rhubarb is low in calories, composed of 95 percent water, contains potassium and a small amount of vitamin C? It also contains two grams of fiber per cup.
My Mother has been making this delicious jam recipe for as long as I can remember. All of my adult children love it!
A jar of Homemade Rhubarb Strawberry Pineapple Jam also makes a great DIY gift. Perfect as a hostess or housewarming gift, teacher appreciation gift, birthday gift, etc… Simply tie a cute ribbon around the top of the jar, add a loaf of fresh bread, place it all into a basket with a nice note. Now off ya go!
An opened jar of Homemade Rhubarb Strawberry Pineapple Jam will keep for weeks unless you are like my family and devour it within a matter of days!
NOTE: Store jars of Homemade Rhubarb Strawberry Pineapple Jam in the freezer until needed.
I hope that you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does. It really is an easy recipe. It just takes a little time but it’s totally worth it!
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