Day 27: Rhubarb-Apple Preserves

17 Feb

England’s known for its berries. As a kid, I’d visit my Granny and we’d go strawberry picking in the summer in farms near her house in Kent. It’s an area where a lot of the strawberries served at Wimbledon’s tennis tournaments in the heat of the English summer are grown. We’d go to pick-your-own farms, get our little baskets to put them in and invariably end up sucking down about half of the berries before they ever made it to the baskets. Granny used to make jams and bitter orange marmalades every year. She never made these rhubarb-apple preserves, as far as I know, but she did make rhubarb-apple crumbles a good deal.

During the war, sugar was fairly heavily rationed after 1941 – 8 ounces only per week for an adult! But you did get 1/2 pound jam per month, which meant you had a sugary treat of sorts fairly readily available, if in limited quantities. For this compote recipe, I used a mixture of sugar and English strawberry jam, to add to the rhubarb’s natural redness for a prettier result. I ended up blending only half of the mixture, so a few chunks of rhubarb and apple remain for texture. This smells like heaven when it’s cooking, but don’t be tempted to dip into it when hot as scalding hot jam is like lava and you’ll burn yourself quite badly.

Rhubarb-Apple Preserves

Yield: 2 regular-sized jam jars

INGREDIENTS
3 stalks rhubarb, unpeeled, roughly chopped
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup strawberry jam

METHOD
Put the rhubarb and apple in a medium pot with about 1 cup tap water. Add the sugar and jam and stir thoroughly. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes. The rhubarb pieces should not be breaking down, but should be cooked through. Remove from the heat and put 1/2 of the compote in a tall container. Blend with a stick blender, or if you don’t have one, process in a food processor or regular blender until smooth. Add the blended half to the unblended. Seal in sterilized jam jars and allow to cool to room temperature. Keep in the refrigerator. This is lovely on toast, toasted English muffins, or hot crumpets. Tea is obligatory.

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