Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Black & Blueberry Rhubarb Jam {Small Batch}

Don't you just love how little kids get so excited for their birthdays?  The week-long countdowns.  The jumping out of bed ready to get on with all the fun birthday stuff when normally you can't drag them out of bed for anything.  Running into school with a container full of mini cupcakes with all of the anticipation one little body can hold.  It's exhilarating, and sweet, and a reminder for us parents of the simple joys of childhood.

Today is my little man's 5th birthday.  There's something about 5 that just is different from all the birthdays that come before.  It's a signal that toddler-hood is over.  That little boy who would only walk down the street holding your hand is now just as willing to let it drop and go running with his big brother as he is to keep holding on to you.  There's so much more he is capable of doing on his own and he is just a little bit more fearless.  But cautious too, as he understands the world around him the tiniest bit more than he did a year ago.  It's enough to make this Mama both proud and a little bit sad too.

I hope there will never come a day when my little guy won't want to snuggle for a few minutes before bed.  Or run up to me at random moments and hug me ferociously.  Or want to hold my hand for just a minute longer as he eyes up the kids in his new class and wonders whether they will want to play with him.  Of course, I know in my head he won't want to do all of those things for much longer even if he promises that he will give me just as many hugs and kisses when he's all grown up.  But I can hope right?  And for the time being, I will hold onto as many of those moments as I can.  Because for now he's still my little boy.

This recipe is for the birthday boy.  He's my super-picky eater.  Fussy beyond belief.  But if there's one thing I know about him, it's that I can always get him to eat a pb&j sandwich.  Especially if it's made with any of my home made jams (well, except for fig, but I make that one for myself anyway).  We discovered when we moved to Germany that he really enjoyed rhubarb so when rhubarb season rolled around this year I made sure to grab some as soon as I saw those beautiful pink stalks at the market.  This jam is packed with fruit and not a whole lot of sugar (plus a secret sweetener that you don't really taste but makes a huge difference to the balance of the jam).  The little guy doesn't really know anything about the balance of tart, sweet and acidic.  He just knows that it's good.  And that's all that really matters to his Mom.

Black & Blueberry Rhubarb Jam
Makes about 1 pint.
For the printable recipe, click here.

This is an incredibly simple jam to make.  I would have loved to have used fresh berries in the jam, but the seasons of the fruit don't overlap.  So I used organic frozen berries instead.  The jam doesn't suffer any in the end.  In fact, it's probably better that I didn't use fresh fruit as their out of season flavors would not have been nearly as good as the frozen berries that are picked in season and at their best.  Be sure to slice the rhubarb thinly so that you don't get any celery-like stringiness in your jam. There's really not enough jam here to can and save for later, but if you really want to, you can pack the finished jam into clean, sterilized quarter pint jars and process them in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Me- I just stick the jar in the fridge and enjoy it as fast as I can.

1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup blackberries, fresh or frozen
2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb (from about 2 stalks)
1/2 cup pure cane sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
juice of half a lemon

Place all ingredients except for the lemon juice in a medium, non-reactive saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Let the mixture cook at a vigorous bubble for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until the berries have burst and the jam is thickened.  Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat. Spoon the finished jam into a clean pint jar and let cool.  Cover and keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

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