Recipe: Simple Strawberry Preserves
Strawberry season is upon us, and there are a million and one things you can do with these sweet little guys. Eaten by the handful or drizzled with cream, cut up in salads and vinaigrettes, baked into cakes and crumbles, or even blended into soups… the list is endless.
And trust me, there is no comparison between the delicate little red fruits at a farmers market and their hard, often flavorless cousins at the grocery store. As a result, my practice is usually to gorge myself when strawberries are available and then spend the next ten and a half months waiting for them to come around again. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
Making strawberry preserves can be quick and easy, and you don’t have to do it in big batches. Just buy a couple pounds the next time you’re at market and try this recipe, so that you can enjoy strawberries throughout the year. A small dollop of vivid red on toast or spooned over ice cream is just the thing to brighten a wintry morning, eight months down the line.
What’s more, you can adapt this recipe to just about any fruit – just cut them up into bite-sized pieces, add an equal weight of sugar with lemon juice, let sit over night, and put them up the next day. By only cooking two cups at a time in a wide skillet, you cut down on the long cooking time jams, jellies and preserves normally take.
(To learn more about home food preservation, check out the Penn State Extension Food Preservation Blog, or contact their Master Food Preserver for more information.)
Simple Strawberry Preserves
Original Recipe from To Pick A Peach by Russ Parsons
- 2 lb. strawberries, rinsed, hulled and cut into bite sized pieces (about 8 cups)
- 2 lb. sugar (about 4 cups)
- Juice of 1 lemon or orange
1. Combine strawberries, sugar and lemon or orange juice in a large bowl. Cover loosely with a clean dish towel and let stand overnight.
2. The next day, prepare your canning supplies. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and sterilize 5 sets of 8 oz. canning jars and lids for about five minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars and lids in the hot water until you are ready to use them.
3. Heat 2 cups of the strawberries and their juices in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring often, until preserves test done. Dip a rubber spatula in the mixture – if the juices come off at multiple points or in sheets rather than at one point on the side, they are done.
4. Ladle strawberries into sterilized jars, filling to ¼ inch of the rim. (A canning funnel is very helpful for this.) Cover each jar with a lid and tighten the ring with your fingers. Set aside.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the remaining strawberries and juice.
6. You can stop at this point and refrigerate the preserves – they will keep for a week in the fridge. If you want them for longer, can them by putting the jars (with lids fastened tightly!) in a large pot of boiling water so they are completely submerged. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove and set aside. Check the seals after a couple hours by removing the ring and picking up the jar using only the flat metal lid. If the lid comes off, the jar did not seal properly and you need to re-boil the jar for 10 minutes.
Try spreading these preserves on the Naughty Rhubarb Scone recipe from last month – rhubarb and strawberry are a natural pairing! Otherwise, just keep these bright red jars hidden until a day in December when you need some springtime cheer.