I love almost any kind of preserve but I rarely find a Strawberry Preserve that I like. They are almost always sickly sweet and/or an ugly maroon color. However, there is nothing better on a scone slathered with Devonshire Cream and it is the favorite preserve of my oldest son After many kilos of strawberries I have one that I am proud to offer.
I prefer to use locally grown strawberries at the height of their season which is June in the Midwest. You can use strawberries from California and Florida but even they have a peak season so be sure to taste them. The strawberries should have red shoulders and should taste good.
- 1000 grams fresh local strawberries
- 1000 grams fresh rhubarb
- 1500 grams superfine sugar
- 130 grams fresh squeezed lemon juice ( save the seeds, membranes and rond for your pectin bag)
- 1 Granny Smith Apple
- pinch of salt
You will also need all the items listed on my page titled Preserving Equipment.
Bring your strawberries home and use immediately if possible. If that’s not possible, lay them on a rimmed sheet pan, in a single layer and cover them loosely with a paper towel This will slow down the molding process.
Rinse the berries to get rid of any sand. Pull out the green tops using a fluted pastry tip. I hold the berry in my left hand and the pastry tip in my right. I push the tip in the top of the berry, give it a little twist and lift it out. This is a clever technique that I learned from Elizabeth Madden of Rare Bird Preserves. If you haven’t tried her preserves you should go out and get some. They are wonderful!
Cut the berries in small pieces. They will shrink so don’t cut them too small if you want pieces of fruit in the final product. Cut the leaves off the rhubarb and discard them as they are poisonous. Cut the tough ends of the bottom of the stalks and dice the stalks. You can make the pieces of rhubarb the same size, smaller or larger than the berries. Put the rhubarb, berries, salt, sugar and lemon juice in a big bowl and with your hands gently fold everything together. Roughly chop the lemon rind and put it and the seeds in the pectin bag. Peel the apple, cut off the fruit and save it for something else. Chop the peel and core and put it in the pectin bag with the seeds. Tie it up and place with the fruit. Let everything macerate for an hour or so until the sugar starts to dissolve.
Clean your preserving pan. Put the fruit and the pectin bag in the pan and place over medium heat until the sugar melts. Raise the heat to high and bring the fruit to a simmer. Turn off the heat and pour the contents of the pan into the heat proof non reactive container. Place in the refrigerator overnight. The purpose of the overnight rest is to allow the sugar syrup to slowly penetrate the fruit so it retains some shape.
Place your jars, ladle and heat proof spouted measuring cup on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a Silpat. Turn the oven on to 225 degrees farenheit. When the oven reaches 225 set your timer for 10 minutes. At the end of the 10 minutes everything on the sheet pan will be sterilized and you can leave it in the oven until you are ready to pour your preserves. Place another sheet pan in the freezer.
Clean your preserving pan. Pour the contents of the refrigerated container into the pan. Place the pan over high heat and bring the preserves to a boil. Boil until the preserves reach 212 farenheit ( 100 centigrade). Take the pan off the heat and test for a gel by dropping a bead of preserves onto the frozen sheet pan. Let it cool for a minute then push it gently with yoour fingertip. If it wrinkles it’s ready. If not, place the pot back on a high flame and boil it a bit longer. Test it again. I like to err on the side of undercooking because to me retaining the flavor of the fresh fruit is most important When you have a gel, remove the sheet pan from the oven. Ladle the preserves into your pouring cup and fill each jar to within 1/8″ of the top. Insert your bamboo skewer into each jar and wigle it around to make sure the jam is settled down and has no air pockets. Fill a bit more if necessary. With a lint free towel moistened with hot water wipe the top of each jar. Put on the lug lids and close firmly. Don’t touch the jars again until they are completely cool. You should hear a popping sound for each jar as they seal. When they are cool check the seal. y pressing a finger on the middle of the jar. It should not wiggle. If it does, it means it has not sealed properly and will not be shelf stable. You can still eat it but it must be kept in the refrigerator.