Strawberry Rhubarb Jam Recipe (no Pectin)

8 pints
50 min

A recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Jam that does not use commercial pectin, but instead relies on apples to thicken the jam. Instructions to water-bath can this rhubarb and strawberry jam are also included.

If you have the strawberries, we have the recipes! This delicious and easy Strawberry Rhubarb Jam is added to the list of Great Strawberry Recipes that includes Strawberry Puree, Strawberry Curd, and Strawberry Tartlets. And save a jar of this jam to make this Strawberry Jam Cake! (You are welcome! 😉)

On a related note, if you have gone to the Strawberry fields and picked multiple pounds of strawberries, make sure you protect your haul. Check out these tips to keep your produce fresher longer.

Everyone is familiar with the delicious little red harbingers of spring, also known as strawberries. But this recipe also incorporates the lesser-known vegetable, rhubarb. Yes, you heard that correctly. Rhubarb is actually a vegetable! The sweet-tart flavor profile of rhubarb plays well with strawberries. In fact, some rhubarb lovers claim that there is a slight note of strawberry in rhubarb.

How to Thicken Jam Without Commercial Pectin

This recipe also incorporates granny smith apples as a way to thicken the jam naturally without commercial pectin. Both strawberries and rhubarb are low pectin foods. Without the addition of some sort of pectin, your Strawberry Rhubarb jam would be more of a thin ‘spread’ than a ‘jam.’

I’ve never been a big fan of commercial pectin as I feel it alters the flavor of the fruit I am canning. But, that just may be me!

Instead of using commercial pectin, I will opt for thinner spreads or using apples to get a thicker jam. This recipe calls for 3-4 granny smith apples. In general, the tarter the apple, the higher the pectin in the fruit. Four apples produced a thick jam, if you’d like a slightly less thick jam then go with 3 apples.

And you will note in the recipe that we use the entire apple as the peels and seeds hold a good amount of pectin as well. As a result, I only use organic apples when I am canning. In fact, I try to use only organic fruits for my jams and jellies.

My process for thickening jam with apples is to wash the apples well, cut them into quarters, peel and core them. Then I shred the peeled apple in my food processor, with the shredding blade.

Finally, I wrap all the peels, cores and seeds in a cheese cloth square.

For this recipe, I cooked down the apples with orange juice first to reduce the amount of time that the strawberries needed to cook. This helped strawberries and rhubarb keep their fresh flavors.

How to Thicken a Thin Jam

No matter what recipe you are using for your jam or jelly, if you are not happy with the set of your jam, consider recooking it with a couple of granny smith apples (and don’t forget the peels and seeds!) You could always cook your jam down a bit longer to get your desired set, but I find the longer that I cook my jams/jellies/preserves, the more I lose the fresh taste of the fruit I am canning.

As such, I will always opt to add a couple of apples as I feel that the apples don’t alter the taste profile as much as a longer cook does.

Supplies I Use for Canning Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

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Supplies I Use for Canning

While canning isn’t hard, it does require a few pieces of equipment to make the task much easier:

  • A Jam Pan or Maslin Pan
  • Weck Can Lifter or Ball Can Lifter
  • Magnetic Lid Lifter
  • Headspace Gauge
  • I use both Weck Jars and Ball Jars.
  • Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
  • A clean surface
  • Clean Towels
  • A bowl of white vinegar

The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is my bible. Even if I think I could make the recipe in my sleep, I double-check myself against the Ball Book…that whole botulism thing. If you are new to canning, it should be your very first purchase. My cookbook library inventory recently expanded with the addition of The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes! Another great canning and preserving resource is the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia website.

Enjoy this delightful Strawberry Rhubarb jam on biscuits, toast, scones or in your next Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich. This jam also makes a great gift, especially when paired with a little spoon. I keep my eyes open for sweet small spoons when I am at Goodwill or an antique store.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam Recipe (no Pectin)
Recipe details
  • 8  pints
  • Prep time: 30 Minutes Cook time: 20 Minutes Total time: 50 min
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  • 3-4 Granny Smith apples, preferably organic
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 pounds of fresh strawberries, preferably organic
  • 10 stalks of rhubarb (about 1/2 - 1 inch in diameter), cut into 1/4 inch slices) You should have about 4 cups of rhubarb
  • 7 cups of sugar
  • 4 TB Lemon Juice

Prepare canner, jars, and lids. See The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for guidance.
Place a saucer with 5 metal spoons on a plate and place it in the freezer.
Peel and core the apples, but reserve the peels and the core.
Use a piece of cheesecloth big enough to form a pouch to place the peels, seeds, and core and tie it closed.
Shred the apples using a grater or the grater on your food processor. I found the food processor much easier and more efficient.
Place the orange juice and the grated apples in a wide bottom pan, covered, and heat on low until the apples are soft, about 15-20 minutes. Check from time to time to make sure your heat is not too high; basically, you want to 'melt' the apple into the orange juice. (I used my jam pan, which doesn't have a lid. Instead, I just placed the lid of another pan into my jam pan to keep the moisture in.)
While your apples are cooking down, clean and hull your strawberries.
Working in batches, place some strawberries into a bowl or pie plate and use a potato masher, large spoon, or the bottom of a glass to mash the berries. (No matter how careful you are, you will likely get strawberry juice sprayed on yourself. Dress appropriately!)
Make sure to collect all the juice from your mashed berries and add the juice and the berries to your cooked down apples, along with the rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, and your little pouch of apples peels/cores/seeds.
Bring mixture to a boil (medium-high heat) and let boil, frequently stirring for about 15-20 minutes, or until jam sets.
To Test For Doneness
Put a small dollop of jam on one of your frozen teaspoons and return it to the freezer for 1-2 minutes, until the bottom of the spoon is cool.
If when you push it with your finger, it wrinkles a bit, then it is done.
If the gel stage has been reached, skim off any foam.
To Water Bath Process
Spoon your jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
Remove air bubbles and wipe rim.
Center lid on the jar
Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.
Place jars in a canner, making sure they are completely covered with water.
Cover pot and bring to a boil
Boil for 10 minutes
Turn heat off, remove the lid and let sit for 5 minutes
Carefully remove jars with jar lifter and place them on a rack where they can be undisturbed for 24 hours.
Refrigerate any jars if their lids don't pop down.
  • This recipe assumes some knowledge of proper and safe canning techniques. Please see the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving for guidance.
Lynn @ Nourish and Nestle
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