Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Makin' Some Strawberry Preserve, the Maine Way

This is only my second time making any kind of preserve, and the other time was with this same recipe.  Now, disclaimer:  I don't do "canning" right.  If you want to do it the "correct" way check out this cool blog post at The Pioneer Woman.  However, this is how I do it and I clearly live to tell the tale.

So part of canning is sterilizing your jars, I guess there is an actual sterilization process but I just put my jars and lids into the dishwasher, add some soap and run a cycle with hot water.  They come out hot and clean, just like they are supposed to :).

The other part is making delicious preserve!  So, I use this recipe from Cooking Downeast by Marjorie Standish but last year Jesse complained that there wasn't enough chunks of berry.  This year I believe I have solved that problem.

One of the questions I have been getting is what is the difference between a jam and a preserve?  My personal definition of the difference between a jam and a preserve is that a preserve has more fruit chunks and jams are more spreadable, but that is not an official defintion.

Ingredients: (for my amended version)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 + 1/3 pint granulated sugar
  • 4 pints chopped fresh strawberries
  • paraffin wax
  • go to a u-pick farm and pick yourself some delicious strawberries (go for organic so you don't eat pesticide when you eat some in the patch!)
    • also heard a good rule of thumb: buy organic if you eat the skin, if you don't it doesn't matter...like cantaloupe, you don't eat the skin
  • "hull" the strawberries (aka get rid of the green leafy stuff)
  • wash! may look clean but just wash it anyway, you're going to be storing this in sugar...and sugar is a breeding ground for bacteria!
  • very small berries you can keep whole but bigger berries you should cut up into slices or quarters
  • I learned last year that it is wise to cut up all 4 pints of strawberries BEFORE you start and have them ready to go, otherwise you will be playing catch up
  • pour 1 cup water into large soup pan
  • add 1 pint (or 2 cups) sugar to water
  • boil for 15 minutes - stir throughout process at necessary to avoid the bottom burning
    • WATCH CAREFULLY! I also learned last year that this will burn suddenly and AGGRESSIVELY...burnt sugar is not fun to deal with
    • also I mean boil, not over boil! bring to a boil quickly but then back off to the lowest temp that will keep it continuously bubbling (on my glass top stove I achieved this at 5)
  • After 15 minutes of actual boiling add 1 pint of strawberries and boil this for 15 minutes
  • Add 1 pint sugar and 1 pint strawberries, bring back to boil and boil for 15 minutes
  • repeat above step
  • add 1/3 pint sugar and 1 pint strawberries, boil for an additional 15 minutes
  • remove from heat and allow to cool, stirring occasionally
  • remove foam from top with a spoon (skim it) but try to keep as much berry goodness out of the foam as possible
  • carefully spoon berry mixture into canning jars leaving enough space to put wax on top
  • take melted wax and pour onto preserve, should cover completely, about 1/4 inch thick
  • allow to cool/set
You may also lick the spoon once it is cool and/or use some to immediately spread onto a lactose free toasted english muffin.  I put some in a huge jar because Jesse goes through jam/jelly/preserve super fast so I didn't want to waste all that wax from him opening a new one every week.

I will have some of these for sale in my etsy store so definitely go check that out and maybe buy one?!

I have enough strawberries left over that I will be doing a strawberry pie (and posting the recipe!) and probably canning even more preserve!

If you ever find yourself diagnosed with scurvy you can eat this to help you get better :)  Better idea...just don't get scurvy.

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