Friday, September 19, 2014

Carolyn Westbrook: Homemade Strawberry Preserves

When we moved out to the country, many years ago, I had dreamed of flowers, vegetable gardens, and fruit trees. It was hard to see past the dilapidated structure, with a roof that could possibly cave in on us, but I could see the potential. This place out in the middle of nowhere turned out to be perfect for raising our family. This year, we have been busy canning, as the garden as been producing all summer, and still is. I remember my grandmother canning anything and everything, from Chow-Chow to beets, which we hated, and now I kind of like again. We have made jar after jar of homemade salsa, preserves, and batch after batch of pickles, trying all different methods.

I wish that I could say that we had so many strawberry plants that I made these from our garden. The truth is, I was at the local supermarket and there was a massive abundance of fresh strawberries and they were in season and on sale. Since I was a girl, I have been a huge fan of the strawberry. I had strawberry lip gloss and a  strawberry necklace, you get the picture. So, I grabbed up a plethora of strawberries and thought that I would do strawberry preserves. You know what's funny, in a time when you think people would no longer do canning, the canning isle has been wiped out, every time that I go. So cheers to those who are in on the canning trend. I needed pectin, and I got the last few boxes.

For those who think canning is hard, its not. What you do need is a great bit pot, to boil your jars and lids, before and after you pack your jars. I boil mine and then set them out on a cookie sheet with a towel to drain. All you have to do is mash the strawberries, cover with lemon juice, then add sugar. The recipe is in the pectin package. Just follow that. You throw in the pectin, boil and put in jars. Once you have sealed the jars, with fresh boiling water, submerge the jars to get a good seal.
Take out, let cool, and the preserves will thicken up. I make preserves, because I like chunks of strawberries. It's that simple.
Here is the good news. At a time when big food companies are packing our food with high fructose corn syrup and GMO's its nice to know where your food comes from and what is in it. Strawberries, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice...that is it. Not to mention that they are absolutely delicious. We were slathering strawberry preserves on anything and everything, including some homemade biscuits.
Here's to canning!
xo Carolyn

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