I’ve decided to start food vlogging some recipes. So I’m kicking off with a video to show you how to make strawberry preserves, because you can get great strawberries this time of year in Texas and these preserves are just YUMMY! Listen, I’m no Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond or Paula Deen (who, I might mention has made a wonderful comeback with quarantine cooking videos!), but this is more fun and easier to explain when folks ask me for a recipe. I could just hand out a copy, but there are some caveats, and nuances that need explanation.
And so…I present to you my rough and rocky shot at a DIY. Listen…I’ve learned some things, after the process was completed and all the strawberries were canned, ok. For instance, one of these 5 children I’ve fed and clothed and driven all over the county is going to have to hold the camera next time! I’m not an eight armed octopus! The other thing I’ve learned is that I’ve got to film on landscape view and not portrait view. But there again…I was doing this myself and I don’t have gorilla hands. Oh…and my baby sister can attest, I’m no still shot photographer either, so the pictures aren’t the greatest yet. I’m sure I’ll have an improved experience for the chocolate chip cookies which are my next video.
My mom and grandma taught me that often Food=LOVE. I’ve come from a long line of women that have expressed their love for others through gifting food. My mom would have us driving all around town on Christmas Eve delivering plates of goodies her friends waited all year to enjoy. Her Overseas Fudge was highly sought after! Her mom, my Grandma, made bread and cookies for every single person in her church through out the year on their birthday. She didn’t miss a “soul”. She would bake, and Grandpa would make the deliveries while doing a pastoral care visit. And you know what? It works. People feel warm and gooey and sweet as a hot chocolate chip cookie when you share with them. They talk about your goodness in a dish when you’re long dead, because a belly never forgets a yummy gift! I’m here to equip you to make shareable edibles…the kind you can give a 2 year old.
Recipe for Michelle’s Strawberry Preserves
Makes 8-9 pints of preserves
8 pounds of ripe strawberries
8 c. sugar
Pectin: 2/3 c. Ball brand pectin (comes in a 4.7 oz container)
or Low 2 boxes of Sure-Gel
1/2 c. lemon juice OR ¼ t. lemon essential oil (if your strawberries are not quite ripe, a little green, adjust to taste by using LESS lemon)
1 T. butter
- Wash strawberries. I like to use a large bath with fruit and vegetable wash. A large basin allows the debris to float out from under the leaves.
- Hull the strawberries with a sharp tipped vegetable peeler or paring knife. Don’t just lop off the tops, you need to get the core out of the fruit.
- Slice the strawberries lengthwise in about ½” widths.
- Mash the strawberries. I use my hands, this gives me a chance to sit down and rest a bit before the big event. But some recommend using a potato masher pastry blender.
- Cover the strawberries with 4 cups of the sugar and let sit for 15-30 minutes. This step may not be necessary, scientifically speaking, but I’ve found that if my strawberries are not quite ripe, it softens and sweetens them before the cooking begins. And it gives you time for the next step.
- Set out supplies: 9 pints worth of jars for canning, with bands and NEW lids, canning funnel, pan of water for boiling jars, tempered dish in the freezer, canning tongs.
- Place in a pan with at least 3 inches of headspace. Add the rest of the ingredients: 4 more c. of sugar, pectin, lemon juice, butter. Stir until well blended.
- Begin cooking on medium-high heat. Bring to a furious boil that will not be stilled by stirring, for 3 minutes.
- Test for consistency: Place a tablespoon of jelly on the frozen dish, return to the freezer for 1 minute. If the jelly sticks to your finger without dripping off, if it holds its shape, it’s finished. If it doesn’t, continue cooking and retest every 2 minutes. At this time, taste the cooled jam, adjust lemon juice if it needs more brightness.
- Once it’s finished, turn the heat off and remove from the burner.
- Begin filling the jars with the jam, using the canning funnel. Fill to the first thread of the mouth of the jar. If any preserve got on the rim of the jar, wipe it completely clean, or the seal will not be secure.
- Place a canning jar lid over the mouth of the jar. Screw band on the jar, but not tightly, just a secure twist. You need to use a lid that has never been used in the heat canning process before. Jars and bands may be reused, but lids that have heat been processed before cannot be reused.
- Place the jars in the pot of boiling water. I like to use a canning basket or a steam rack so the jars aren’t making direct contact with the pan. Place the lid on the pan and set timer for 5 minutes.
- Remove jars from the water bath, with canning tongs, if possible. Set them on a towel on the counter.
- Within 15 minutes, each jar should “pop” indicating the seal is secured. You can see the button on each lid, if it’s indented, it’s sealed, if it’s still buttoned “out” return to the water bath…OR….just eat it now!
- Let the jars sit undisturbed for 12 hours, then wipe clean and tighten the band.
- Shelf life is said to be 1 year in the refrigerator, or 1 year in the pantry. But it never lasts that long at my house!