Rhubarb and Strawberry Quick Jams

Rhubarb jam is a perfect partner for buttery toast.
metrocurean photos

from the metrocurean archives...

I love the idea of canning and jamming ... in theory. But I'll admit that when it comes down to sterilizing jars and worrying about proper seals, I'm as lazy as they come. That means my pickles are typically the kind you eat up in a few weeks, and I like my jams quick.

Quick jams, as they're often called, don't require the whole sterilization rigmarole and are meant to be consumed in a couple of weeks. Whipping up a batch of quick jam is the perfect solution for when you (and by "you" I mean "I" every weekend) get a little overzealous at the farmers market and come home with more fruit than you know what to do with.

In honor of the gorgeous spring bounty of rhubarb and strawberries, here are two super simple jams I've been making. And yes, I like to keep these classic lovebirds separate. They hold their own just fine — and I like the distinct flavors.

Reducing the fruit with sugar over heat gives it a nice thick consistency. I don't ever bother with added pectin — just keep an eye on your pot for the desired thickness.

Rhubarb Quick Jam

10-12 stalks rhubarb, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan, stir well, and heat over medium-high until boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook stirring occasionally until the rhubarb has broken down and the jam begins to thicken, about 20 minutes. Let cool. Store the jam in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Strawberry Quick Jam

5 cups strawberries (about 2 pints), hulled and quartered
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 vanilla bean (optional)

In a medium-sized pot, add the strawberries and sugar, and crush the mixture with the back of a spoon or fork to break up most of the berries. Throw in half a vanilla bean if you have one. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and gently boil for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and skimming off the foam. Add lemon juice and continue cooking for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally and skimming off the foam. Remove from heat and allow jam to cool. Store the jam in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.