In honor of my grandma, Honey
When I think of preserving, I think of my grandma, Honey! Honey and I use to preserve every summer, and now I’ve taken it on
as my project. Honey is so special to me, because she is my connection to the past, and I cherish each and every thing that she has taught me. She also really encourages my interests, and so she special ordered me an out of print book all about preserving and canning called Fine Preserving: Jams and Jellies, Pickles and Relishes, Conserves and Chutneys and Brandied Fruits by Catherine Plagemann. Inside the book Honey wrote:
To My Granddaughter, Annsley:
May you use this and enjoy the “fruits” of your labors for many years!
I used this book with love and affection towards my grandma, and adapted the strawberry preserves recipe to a bit of a more modern day standard. I go one step beyond and always pick my own berries, too!
Adapted from Fine Preserving
Just a quick note – I love this recipe, because most preserving recipes you have to do all at the same time and you have to set aside a large chunk of time to do it. This one works in steps, and allows you plenty of time over the course of several days if you need it.
Makes 4-5 1/2 pint jars (= 8 oz.) of preserves (according to me)
- 2 quarts of ripe strawberries (equivalent to 2 tall takeout containers)
- 4 TBSP of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 cups of granulated sugar (the recipe called for 8, but 3 was plenty!!)
*note: You can buy store bought canning kits, but I just make do with what I have at home.
- 1 large pot for sterilizing jars
- 1 large and tall pot for boiling the jam
- non-metalic bowl for mixing
- long, shallow platter (optional)
- wooden spoon for stirring
- 6 1/2 pint (8 oz.) canning jars with lids and rings
- small sauce pan for warming lids of jars
- tongs or something of the like to remove jars from hot water, but you can also use a jar lifter
- small metal measuring cup or ladle for pouring the jam into the jars
- sponge for cleaning top of jars
- several clean dish towels
So, I had never made preserves without pectin and letting it sit for several days. This method was totally foreign to me, but came out better than all my other recipes.
According to Fine Preserving:
- In non-metallic bowl, gently mix together strawberries, lemon juice, and sugar. Hands are best for this so as not to crush the berries, but I used my wooden spoon.
- Let mixture sit for 3 hours or so to draw out the juice. (I love this part, because I can do other things in between.)
- Put the mixture in a large kettle (larger than you think because the foam rises high as it boils), and boil the mixture for about 15 minutes. While the mixture is boiling, constantly stir it so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. After a few minutes, scum will form. Skim off the scum. (I use my wooden spoon for this, and I reserve the delicious tasting foam and it can be used like a simple syrup.)
- Pour the boiled preserves into a non-metallic bowl. (I use the same one, but just wash it.) Cover it and let it sit for a day. Stir it gently from time to time. “This is the secret of making really fine-quality strawberry preserves. The process plumps up the berries and counteracts their tendency to float to the top.” If the jam is not thick enough, pour it into a large, shallow dish or platter and let it sit until it reaches the desired consistency.
- (This is where the book tells you to can and be done, but I take safety precautions so . . . ) I pour the preserves back into the large pot and bring it to a rolling boil for about 5 more minutes, so the preserves are hot.
- While the preserves are boiling, I put another large pot on the stove and add my glass canning jars to it (without the lids). I fill the pot so that there are several inches above the jars, boiling them completely submerged for 10 minutes according to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, College of Agriculture & Environmental Science. (If you are at an altitude of 1000 feet or more, add 1 minute of sterilizing time for each 1000 feet of altitude.) Keep the jars in the hot water until they are ready to be filled.
- In a small sauce pan, I add the lids and bring to a simmer over medium heat. DO NOT bring them to a boil; You don’t want to burn the rubber of the seals, you just want to make the rubber malleable for a good seal. Reduce heat from a simmer to keep them warm. You DO NOT need to heat the rings.
- Fill the jars using the measuring cup as a pourer into the jar. (You may use a funnel if desired). Leave 1/4 inch of space at the top of the jar. (I only fill one jar at a time since the preserves are still warm and then put the lid on. Not sure if you can fill them all first or not . . .)
- Wipe the rim of the jar off with a damp sponge to ensure the lid will seal properly. Then put on the lid and the screw ring.
- Return the sealed jars into a not quite boiling water bath (as long as the preserves inside the jars is still hot). When lowering the jars into the bath, make sure that you have grabbed them below the neck of the jar and the ring band. Do not tilt the jars, so that the seal stays intact. Immerse the jars so that they are covered by 1-2 inches of water. Turn up the heat to high and add the lid.
- Bring to a full boil before you boil for a full 5 minutes (for pre-sterilized jars) and a full 10 minutes for jars cleaned prior to use in hot water or by a dishwasher. Again, (if you are at an altitude of 1000 feet or more, add 1 minute of sterilizing time for each 1000 feet of altitude.)
- Remove jars and allow to cool on dish towel at least 1 inch apart from each other. Allow jars to sit undisturbed for 12 – 24 hours until they cool and vacuum seals is drawn into place with a click. DO NOT push in the lid, otherwise it will not have sealed properly. DO NOT tighten the ring bands.
- Remove the ring bands and place any jars that DID NOT seal into the refrigerator and use first, or reseal them again following instructions from step #9 by removing and replacing the lid.
- Label and store sealed jars in a cool, dry place to enjoy for another time or give as gifts!