On Saturday and Sunday we picked strawberries in the garden. Smaller than the store-bought variety, these berries are just as sweet and completely pesticide free. Our fingers and tongues were red from the small red berries that filled our colanders and our stomachs. I asked what we would do with all of the fruit we had picked. The answer: strawberry preserves.
Strawberry preserves is the sweet taste of summer heat and sun-kissed cheeks spread thick over toast on cold winter mornings. It oozes, ruby-red and seedy, over brown crust completing the perfect PB&J. Here is an easy to follow recipe just like I learned a couple of days ago in the warm kitchen of the Hard Cider Homestead.
- 4 cups fresh strawberries (mashed)
- 7 cups sugar
- Certo fruit pectin
- Canning jars and lids
- 2 large pots
- Butter (optional)
Cut the tops off the strawberries and put the berries in a large mixing bowl. Take a potato masher and mash the strawberries into a thick red pulp. Pour the contents (4 cups) into a sauce pan on high heat. Add the sugar and stir until the mixture boils consistently. Add the pectin and stir for 1 minute. During this time, the liquid will bubble and foam. Add a half-inch of butter to reduce the foam on the surface of the liquid.
Remove from heat and ladle into glass jars.Screw on tops and lids. Add covered jars one by one into a pot of boiling water. Leave for 15 minutes. Remove the jars. Lids will pop when a seal has formed, preventing bacteria from contaminating the batch. Let cool and store.
A more complete recipe can be found here.
In less than 24 hours, I had followed a strawberry from its birthplace in the earth to the kitchen and into a glass container of preserves. My apron was relatively stain-free and I had successfully canned more jars than I cared to count. My newly acquired domesticity reminded me of long evenings with my mother, reading Little House on the Prairie on the living room sofa. I doubt Laura Ingalls could make strawberry preserves this good.