I think everyone knows on here by now just how obsessed with canning I am.
Last year, it was my crazy desire to fill an entire pantry in our garage with homemade canned goods. I canned all the way up till the moment my water broke with Grayson and ALMOST filled the cupboard. There were hot pickled carrots, hot pickled okra, bread and butter pickles, apricot jam, raspberry jam, strawberry jam, canned beets, peach salsa, tomato salsa, salsa verde, dilly beans, tomato sauce, whole peeled tomatoes, blueberry butter, apple butter, apple sauce…….the list goes on.
In my opinion, there’s nothing more satisfying than canning fresh produce from the farmer’s market. I’ve been reaping the rewards of my efforts last spring and summer with every bite of juicy tomato canned at the height of tomato season, and every smear of spiced apple butter that I made with the apples we gathered at Apple Hill last fall. Y’all, I’m a pretty simple gal. Other than my family and friends, the three things that make me the happiest are canning, books and yoga.
There’s a couple things that I like to make a lot of every year and strawberry preserves are at the top of the list! Adam eats a PBJ every morning for breakfast and strawberry is his favorite jam. I also top Grayson’s oatmeal with homemade preserves every morning.
Strawberry preserves were the first thing I ever canned and I was shocked at how EASY it was! Plus, so much better than anything you can find at the store, obviously.
Use these preserves on toast, in oatmeal, on buttermilk biscuits fresh out of the oven, spooned over vanilla ice cream, drizzled into a vanilla milkshake…really, I’m sure you won’t be looking for reasons to eat this jam. It’s so good. This recipe makes about ten jelly jars (12 oz) full. Sealed, the jars will keep in dry storage at room temperature for about a year.
Classic Strawberry Preserves
yields 10 half pint jars
6 lbs fresh strawberries, stemmed and quartered
2 3/4 – 3 cups sugar (depending how sweet your strawberries are)
6 tbsp fresh lemon juice
zest of three lemons
Combine strawberries and sugar in a large bowl. Cover and let sit and macerate overnight in the fridge.
The next day, put the strawberries, sugar and juice in a large pot on the stove. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for five minutes. Place a bowl underneath a colander and gently pour everything in. Pour the juice from the bowl back in the pot and place it back on the stove. You’ll come back for the strawberries in a few minutes.
Bring the strawberry juice to a rolling boil. Boil for 15-20 minutes until reduced to about 3 cups liquid. Add the strawberries back in, as well as the fresh lemon juice and zest. Simmer, spooning off as much foam as you can that rises to the surface, for about half an hour. I love the trick of keeping a small plate in the freezer and after 20-30 minutes, spooning a bit of the jam on the plate. Return the plate to the freezer for one minute. If after one minute the mixture sets a little bit (i.e. isn’t SO runny — it will not jell or harden really), the preserves are done.
Ladle the hot preserves into the jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace (this is WAY easier if you have a simple funnel tool like I have –you can get them for really cheap at any hardware store). Place a flat lid on each jar and gently screw on the band – just finger-tight. If you tighten too much the jars will not seal.
Place all the jars back into your canning pot and crank the heat to high. When the water starts to rapidly boil, set your timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the jars from the boiling water using a jar lifter. Place on a dishcloth and do not disturb for 12 hours.
Correctly sealed jars will have a concave top – you should not be able to push down at all on the lid. If a jar did not seal, the marmalade is still good — just place in the fridge. Sealed jars will stay good for about a year sealed at room temperature.