Here’s a typical strawberry preserve but with a twist—of lemon!
I add a tiny bit of citrus—lemon or lime—to many of my canned fruits. A small amount perks up the taste of the fruit. In this recipe, you not only get the increased strawberry flavor but a refreshing bite of tangy lemon now and then. You can apply this recipe to all berries throughout the season (just vary the spices according to your taste preferences).
This recipe is made without pectin, which requires a large amount of added sugar to make the fruit set. I generally can fruits by cooking them down to a thickness that makes them similar to fruit butters so that I can limit the amount of sugar. In fruit butters, the fruit shines through and the sugar within the fruit itself produces a consistency that allows it to be spreadable. It’s also healthier—for those of us who choose or need to watch our sugar intake.
I also choose organic fruits. In many cases, fruits have the greatest amounts of pesticides of any foods (especially in their skins, such as apples and peaches). I also find that organic fruits have the best flavor since they need to be picked close to ripeness (no preservatives!). This means they will usually need to be canned within a day or two of harvesting.
Easy Strawberry Lemon Preserves
- 4 pounds strawberries
- 2 lemons
- 1 cup sugar cane sugar or organic raw sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon optional
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger optional
- Prepare 4 pint jars by placing them in a water-bath canner, bring to boil, and simmer for at least 10 minutes while preparing the recipe. Put the lids and bands in a small saucepan with water to cover, and simmer at very low heat.
- Meanwhile, cut the lemons into very thin slices, and then cut each slice in half. Remove and discard any seeds.
- Hull the strawberries, and combine them with the lemons, sugar, and spices in a nonreactive saucepan or stockpot. Cook over medium heat. Stir frequently to prevent sticking and burning. As it cooks, the strawberries will begin to break down and release juices. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens. This can take from 20 to 40 minutes depending on the ripeness of strawberries (less ripe berries tend to thicken faster). Test for spreadable consistency by cooling a tablespoon of the preserves on a saucer. If it begins to hold its shape, it is ready to jar.
- Ladle the hot mixture into hot jars, wipe the rims, and seal with bands and lids, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Process the jars in the water-bath canner for 5 minutes after the water has returned to boil. Remove the jars and leave them undisturbed for 12 hours. Test the lid seal after 1 hour and put any unsealed jars in a refrigerator immediately.
*This recipe comes to us from Edible Atlanta. Lyn Deardorff is a 40-year canner, starting with her grandmother making sauerkraut and dill pickles in her basement. She teaches canning workshops in the Atlanta area and has produced and sold organic preserved fruits and vegetables. For more information please visit preservingnow.com.