May 8, 2013

Canning Rhubarb Strawberry Pie Filling

Making rhubarb filling. Except I forgot to show the rhubarb! (Tired day.)
Rhubarb is a great addition to the garden; it comes back year after year and abundantly produces food that's high in vitamin C and K, fiber, and calcium. But I confess: I've never eaten it.

When I was growing up, my Dad always included it in our garden and my mother begrudgingly cooked pies with it - pies she never ate and strongly recommended I avoid, too. How sad that I never tried it, anyway! Well, this year, I added a rhubarb plant to our garden. It won't produce much this year, but my mom-in-law has a well established plant, so she gave me a bag of rhubarb to experiment with. I decided to make - you guess it - canned rhubarb pie filling.

My mom-in-law highly recommended this recipe, which comes from The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (which, if you only have one canning book, is the one you should own). The only change I made was to add an extra cup of strawberries.  

And what was my verdict? Was the pie filling yummy or gross? YUMMY!

Canned Rhubarb Strawberry Pie Filling

3 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped fine
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest (rind)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice*
7 cups 1 inch slices rhubarb
2 cups granulated sugar
4 - 5 cups hulled, halved strawberries (if the berries are quite large, quarter them)**
The rhubarb, sugar, apple, and orange zest and juice mixture.

1. Review the guidelines for water bath canning. Prepare jars and keep them warm. Prepare lids and keep simmering on the stove.

2. In a large stainless steel pot, pour the apples, orange zest, and orange juice. Stir well.

3. Add the rhubarb and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often. Once the mixture boils, stir constantly and cook until the rhubarb is very tender when pierced with a fork, about 12 minutes.

4. Add the strawberries, stirring in well. Return to a boil. Remove from the stove.
Add the strawberries.

The mixture, cooked soft.
5. Ladle the hot mixture into hot pint jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Bubble. Wipe rims. Add a lid and screwband. Process jars for 15 minutes.**

Recommendations from my mom-in-law:  

_Try adding a handful of fresh strawberries to this mixture before baking a pie.

_This filling also makes an awesome topping for vanilla ice cream.

_Have leftover rhubarb? No problem! Chop it up and freeze it for another use.

* You'll need 1 orange to get the zest and juice you need for this recipe.

** NOTE: If you live at a high altitude, read this important information about adjusting canning times.

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