A recent trip to the market yielded me tons of gorgeous strawberries and rhubarb that I knew were destined to be a jam. I wanted something different, though, than a standard strawberry-rhubarb preserves. I ended up choosing a recipe from one of my go-to resources for canning, Food In Jars, that sounded incredibly unique — a rosewater-scented strawberry-rhubarb jam.
Rosewater is an ingredient that you may or may not have in your pantry. Commonly found in Indian, Greek, and Middle Eastern recipes, rosewater is made from fresh or dried rose petals that have been steeped in a solvent (usually water but sometimes alcohol, depending on what kind of extract company you buy from) then strained to produce a fragrant extract. WikiHow outlines a few different ways to make rosewater with both fresh and dried rose petals. And on an episode of Good Eats, Alton Brown made homemade rosewater for his baklava recipe in a similar process as shown in this video from HerbMentor on Youtube.
I happily proceeded with the recipe — chopping the strawberries and rhubarb, adding the sugar, and putting it all into my yellow dutch oven pot. Just as I reached for the rosewater and uncapped it, I had some second thoughts. Would the scent of the rosewater overpower the strawberries? Am I using too much or too little? Would it just taste and smell like eating a bouquet of flowers? I was close to making a different jam or just omitting the rosewater entirely, not wanting to ruin perfect ingredients for something that I might hate. I quickly changed my mind, though, and charged on with confidence, knowing that her recipes are well-tested and have never failed me in the past. I was glad I did.
I made two changes to the recipe: I added 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice for added freshness and citrus flavor (not to help with raising the acid level to help in the preserving process, since the strawberries are acidic enough on their own) and an extra 1/4 cup of sugar to compensate for the added tartness from the lemon juice and since there was bound to be some lip-puckering from the rhubarb.
I couldn’t be happier with the results. The outcome was a sweet and tangy, blushing ruby red preserves with a lovely aroma, both from the strawberries (which were incredibly ripe and sweet) and the rosewater. The recipe yielded several half-pint jars and a little extra that I didn’t end up canning because it wasn’t a full jar.
I was fortunate for this half-filled jar, though, which I stashed in the fridge and have been noshing on as a mix-in for yogurt topped with homemade granola ever since — one of my new favorite breakfasts to bring to work.
I buy yogurt locally from Klein Farms and strain it to make it thick, like the consistency of Greek yogurt although it has a fuller-fat (and therefore more indulgent) flavor. And, MAN, is it good…