Overripe fruit can almost always be used in some sort of jam. If you don’t have enough fruit for a whole batch, you can put the fruit in the freezer until you have enough. For example, you can peel and core wrinkled apples and then freeze them so you always have apples on-hand to make a quick applesauce or a batch of apple butter to enjoy alongside Havarti.
A major benefit of making your own jam is having the option to add in an extra bit of flavor, especially with herbs or spices. For instance, pear and tarragon make a great combination, as do strawberry, vanilla and mint or apple and thyme. Or perhaps a fennel jam – it sounds odd, but tastes lovely with cheese and ham. And then there are all the licorice flavors: fennel, star anise or just plain licorice root. These flavors go with almost anything, as does vanilla.
This recipe uses leftover rhubarb and cranberries to make a tart and flavorful jam, perfect for enjoying on biscuits with Castello Creamy Havarti. To pep up the flavor a little, this recipe uses finely grated lemon zest, star anise and vanilla. The result is reminiscent of red licorice candy, only a bit milder.
Rhubarb-Cranberry Jam with Star Anise
3/4 pound rhubarb
1/2 cup cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla pod
5 star anise
1 lemon, zest and juice
Cut off the rhubarb tops, discard them and chop the remainder into small pieces. Place in a pot with the cranberries and a vanilla pod that has been sliced open. Add water to cover the bottom of the pot so the contents don’t stick, about 1/2 cup. Cover and boil until fruit is very soft and juicy. The rhubarb will take 10 to 15 minutes.
Then add the sugar, lemon juice, lemon rind and star anise. Simmer on low for another 20 minutes, or until you achieve the desired consistency. You can cut back on cooking time by either using gelling sugar or another gelling agent to make it set.
Now it’s ready to pour into the jars. Seal the jars immediately. Store in a cool, dark place.
Still curious about the finer details to homemade jam? Check out the Eight Expert Tips for Making Jam.