Spring means fresh strawberries, and one of the best ways to enjoy them long after they are picked is to preserve them.
I am huge fan of preserving in-season fruits. The process is really easy to do and the rewards are very satisfying. All you need is some freshly picked fruit, sugar, and some canning jars. If you don’t want to deal with processing jars in boiling water, do what I do: put the packed jars in a 200 degree F. oven for 10 minutes and you are done.
If you are going to preserve strawberries take a trip to your local berry picking farm and pick them yourself. It will cost a little more but you are guaranteed super fresh fruit, which will translate into a better final product. Most farms spray berries heavily with pesticides, so really look for an organic one. You don’t want to to feed that poison to your family, do you? Of course not.
This will yield about 6 half pint jars. The result is a spread that is bursting with strawberry flavor, nicely sweet, and very slightly tart. You will need:
4 pounds fresh, medium strawberries, whole, cored
4 cups sugar
2 lemons, zest removed with a micro plane and fully juiced
reserved pits from lemon
- Set the oven to 200 degrees F., and place the jar in the oven. Boil the lids in a small pot filled with water, then remove from heat.
- Place the lemon pits in a cheesecloth and tie to create a pouch.
- Mix together the sugar, zest, and juice in a large, wide pot, and then add the strawberries. Mix to combine and put the heat to high. Add the lemon pit pouch.
- Crush the berries gently with a wooden spoon as it comes to a boil, stirring often. When it gets to a rolling boil, back the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes. Continue simmering and get the temp to 218 degrees, or when the bubbles start to look very small. Be very careful not to let the bottom burn.
- Put a dollop of the preserves on a frozen plate, then put back in the freezer for a minute or two. It should not flow back on itself when you run your finger through it. This is the gel stage. Don’t over reduce the mixture or it will solidify too much in the jars. Once you are at the gel stage, remove from the heat and work quickly on the next step.
- Ladle into the hot, sterilized jars, hand-tighten the lids, place on a sheet pan, and put back in the 200 degree F. oven for 10 minutes. If you don’t want to process, let the jars cool and just put it in the fridge. It will keep for a few weeks or more. The finished product will be jelled but flow nicely for spreading.