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Making a Sweet and Tart Rhubarb Jelly - A Complete Guide to Water Bath Canning for Beginners by Craft Queen Mama

One of the first delights of spring is the emergence of beautiful red rhubarb. This tart and vegetable, often mistaken for fruit, is perfect for making delicious rhubarb jelly. If you're new to water bath canning, don't worry! This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process, or if you are a seasoned canner simply jump to the recipe and follow the directions. Either way this article will ensure your pantry is stocked with homemade goodness to enjoy or gift away.

Why Make Rhubarb Jelly?

Rhubarb jelly is a versatile preserve that can be used on toast, in desserts or even as a glaze for meats but personally I love using is on a charcuterie board and adding it to my Christmas gift baskets as its one a one of a kind preserve. Making it yourself ensures that you know exactly what's in your food, and its a fantastic way to use up an abundant rhubarb harvest.

What You'll Need

  • 2lbs of chopped rhubarb ( about 4 cups)

  • 4 cups of water

  • 1 box of Bernardin powdered pectin or 2 poches of liquid Certo

  • 4-6 cups of organic cane sugar ( depends on your personal preference)

  • Canning jars, lids and bands

  • Water bath canning pot

  • Jar lifter

  • Funnel

  • Ladle

  • Large pot

  • Cheese Cloth

Step-by-Step Directions

To make rhubarb jelly, you will first need to make rhubarb juice. You can make this a day or 2 before and simply keep it in your fridge until you are ready to make your jelly.

Step 1 : Prepare Your Equipment

Before you begin sterilize your canning jars, and make sure you have enough new rings and seals.

Step 2: Make Rhubarb Juice

In a large pot, combine the chopped rhubarb and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft and has broken down and completely fallen apart.

Step 3: Strain the Juice

Using a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth or a jelly bag, strain the rhubarb mixture into a large measuring cup. Allow the rhubarb juice to strain for a minimum of 2 hours or until you have 4 cups of juice. Discard the pulp into a compost bin.

Step 4: Prepare the Jelly

Pour the rhubarb juice back into the large pot. If you are using Bernardin powdered pectin, stir it in now with the sugar and bring it to a rolling boil, stirring consistently. If you are using liquid Certo you will only add in the sugar and bring it to a rolling boil. Once you have a hard boil stir in the Certo. Regardless of pectin choice continue to boil hard for 1 minute or until the jelly test tells you its ready. Turn off the heat and scrape off any foam from the top using a wooden spoon.

Step 5: Fill the Jars

Remove from the stove and use a ladle and funnel to carefully fill the hot sterilized jars with the hot jelly. Leave a 1/4 inch headspace at the top of your jars. If you want clear jelly remove any little bubbles by using the back of a table spoon to scrape of the top of each jar. Wipe the rim of the jars with a clean, damp cloth of vinegar to ensure a good seal. Place the seals on the jars and screw on the rings until they are fingertip tight only.

Step 6: Process the Jars

Placed the filled jars into the water bath canner. Cover them with warm to hot water, ensuring they are covered with at least 1 inch of water over top. Place any jars that are not completely full to 1/4 inch headspace into the fridge to be eaten over the next few months. Bring the water bath canner to a rolling boil before putting the lid on and setting the timer for 10 minutes to process. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and remove the lid. Allow the jars to rest in the pot for 5 minutes before removing them.

Step 7: Cool and Store

After the 5 minutes use a jar lifter to carefully remove the jars from the canner and place them on a towel to cool. Do not disturb the jars for 12-24 hours. After cooling, check the seals by pressing the center of each lid. If the lid does not pop back, the jar is sealed. Remove the ring and label each jar, be sure to include the date. Store in a cool dark place, like a basement. Store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use them first.

Tips for Beginners

  1. Sterilization is Key: Properly sterilizing your jars and equipment is crucial to prevent spoilage and ensure your jelly is safe to eat.

  2. Check Seals: Always check that your jars have sealed correctly before storing them. You should be able to pick your jar up by the seal if its on tight.

  3. Follow the Recipe: Precise measurements and following the recipe ensures that your jelly sets correctly.

  4. Use the best stalks of rhubarb: You want to make sure your rhubarb is clean, and that you cut off any bad parts.

  5. Clear Jelly: Remove as much foam and air bubbles as possible will give you a clearer jelly.

The Reward - Enjoying your Sweet and Tart Rhubarb Jelly

Making rhubarb jelly is a rewarding experience that brings the taste of spring into your home all year round. With this guide, even beginners to water bath canning can create a delicious and safe jelly to enjoy or gift to others.

Happy Canning Friends !

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