The rhubarb is ripening. Don't worry, there were no spiders in the rhubarb, but a sneaky black widow in one of the out buildings decided to take a nibble on my wrist. All's well that end's well, but the venom effect masqueraded as back labor for a few days, which is altogether unpleasant as there is no baby to hold in the end! But, there is rhubarb and a little slow jelly making in the healing time.
Here the rhubarb has been rinsed and chopped and some of the long stringy strips peeled away. It smelled so good. There is about 5 cups of rhubarb here.
Four cups of sugar get stirred into the chopped rhubarb. Stir it so every piece of tangy tart rhubarb gets coated with some sugar. Cover it, and then the wait. The sugar will do its magic all by itself. If you happen to walk by, give it a stir. It needs to sit all day and through the night. See what I mean about slow jelly?!
The sugar has juiced up the rhubarb and mostly dissolved. There will be a layer of sugar at the bottom, but it all gets used in the jelly process. Oh, by the way, the recipe comes out of this cookbook. The Amish have so many wonderful ways of cooking.
Here it is up close. If you breathe deeply, you will just nearly smell the sugary rhubarb goodness!
Now the sugar and rhubarb mixture is set to boil hard for 5 minutes on the stove top. Add 1-2 cups of water to help all sugar dissolve. Also add the secret ingredient of all jam and jellies: a nip of butter to keep the foaming down; it doesn't take much, maybe 1/8 of a teaspoon. Stir and make sure all sugar on the sides of the pot have gotten mixed in as well. Otherwise sugar crystals will form on the jelly later.
Now it is time for the mystery ingredient. It is hard to imagine, so it will be revealed slowly. See the little corner of the box peaking out from behind the pot? Well, before the jelly is poured into the hot jars, a 6 ounce package of (I can hardly say it. This is contraband around the farm!!) a package of strawberry jello!!! Yes, J-E-L-L-O! Add this to the boiled rhubarb and sugar mixture and stir well so all of it is dissolved. It will take about 2 minutes of stirring, stirring, stirring.
Now it is time to fill the hot jars, wipe the rims, and seal with hot lids and bands. Place the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes or invert on the counter. The Ball Blue Book for canning requires the hot water bath.
Finally it is time for the taste test! Serve over hot biscuits with melted butter and coffee or tea, this is good therapy for spider bites or anything else that ails you. Don't worry too much about the Jello. Your secret is safe with me!