When I was reading about cooking with currants in Edible Portland, I spotted a recipe for strawberry-rhubarb jam with cardamom, submitted by Janie Hibler. While I didn’t follow the recipe, I took the suggestion about adding cardamom to this classic fruit combination and it was great. I was lucky to have scooped up both rhubarb and strawberries — the last of the season – at the farmers’ market so I was in business. I made only a very small batch but this would be a recipe to repeat for gift giving. The cardamom imparts a spicy, almost smoky taste, which will be good for the year-end holidays.
I was worried about having to cook this too long so I added a small bag of lemon seeds and the juice of a lemon to the macerating fruit. I don’t know if that helped develop the gel (or if it just came from the sugar or rhubarb) but it set up quickly. I also added crushed cardamom seeds (the little black ones inside the hulls, not the hulls) in cheesecloth, which flavored the liquid. A small amount of purchased ground cardamom could be added instead, but keep it under a half teaspoonful.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam with Cardamom
3 stalks, about ½ lb, rhubarb, trimmed and cut into small slices (2 cups)
1 qt strawberries, hulled and sliced (3 cups)
2 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon, seeds reserved and tied in a cheesecloth pouch
6-8 cardamom pods, hulled and seeds crushed and tied in a cheesecloth pouch (or scant ½ tsp ground cardamom)
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and let macerate for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Prepare canning jars and lids. Place fruit and its syrup in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, cooking to the gel point (220 degrees or until a droplet gels when tested on a cold plate). Process in a water bath canner, boiling for 10 minutes. Remove lid and turn off heat, let set for 5 minutes and then remove to sit undisturbed for a day. Makes 3 half pints.