Friday, July 1, 2011

More berries! Summer Strawberry Preserves



Be it strawberries, cherries, or blueberries, I have been buying summer berries in bulk from the farmers market and eating them like there is no tomorrow.  Which, to be honest, is sort of hilarious, because there is definitely no shortage of sweet berries here in Southern California.  For us, the berry season in the summer is pretty long which means I am a lucky lady (with a belly full of sweet berries).  


At the farmer's markets and even the grocery stores, strawberries are plentiful and perfectly ripe right now, which makes it the ideal time for turning those berries into jam and preserves.  I told you a few weeks ago about my first love - cherry preserves - and a few readers were curious if the same recipe would work for other berries like strawberries or blueberries.  Naturally I couldn't let this question go unanswered (since own curiosity often gets the better of me) so I decided to cook up some strawberry preserves.


I used the same simple, almost no-recipe formula that I did with my cherry preserves - chop some of the berries finely, leave others whole or in large pieces, cook them down with lemon juice, then add the sugar and cook again to thicken.  Everything worked splendidly, and this recipe manages to capture the essence of summer strawberries and enhance it with a little extra sweetness.


Between this recipe for Summer Strawberry Preserves and the recipe for Sweet Cherry Preserves there was one major difference - the consistency of the final fruit puree.  Cherries have a lower water content than strawberries, so the Sweet Cherry Preserves are almost the thickness of a jam, and are barely pourable.  On the other hand, strawberries release much more water when you cook them, which makes the resulting preserves thinner and more pourable.  This makes Summer Strawberry Preserves good for spreading on bread, but also ideal for topping a summer sundae. Just a suggestion. *wink, wink*


Now before I leave you for the long weekend (and I won't really be leaving because there will be a follow up post tomorrow) I wanted to tell you a few other things: 

-I will be doing a live cooking demo for San Diego Living on Channel 6 tomorrow!  If you live in the greater San Diego area, be sure to tune in between 9-10am to catch the show and see me make a fantastic Fourth of July dessert.

-A great new recipe website called Gojee launched today!  It will feature recipes from a great group of really talented food bloggers, and I feel honored to count myself among the ranks of those featured.  The website is really well-designed and based a lot on food images - which I love.  I am excited to start using it myself!  Head on over and check it out

Love these cute kitchen labels that I got from my even cuter sister.

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Strawberry Preserves

4 heaping cups washed and hulled strawberries
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/2-2 cups sugar (depending on your preference)
1 tbsp limoncello (optional)

For about 1/3 of the strawberries cut them into quarters (large pieces), and for the remaining 2/3 of the strawberries, cut them into medium dices (small pieces).  Combine both the large and small pieces of strawberries in a medium pot, add the lemon juice, and bring them to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Continue to cook the berries for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally (don't let them burn!), and skimming off any extra foam that rises to the surface.  After about 15 minutes, the strawberries will have broken down and the juice will have thickened slightly - add the sugar and stir to dissolve, then continue cooking it for about another 5-7 minutes, stirring often.  At this point, the juice should have started to 'gel' a bit and thicken so that it starts to coat the back of your spoon or ladle.  Remove the preserves from heat, and test if they are done.  If the preserves are not done, return them to the heat and cook them for a few more minutes, then test them again.  When done, let the preserves cool slightly*, then transfer it to jars.  Once they are cooled, they will keep refrigerated for several months.
  
*If you like, stir in some limoncello to enhance the flavor of the strawberries. 

14 comments:

  1. This is the most beautiful post I've seen today. (and I've seen a lot)

    Brilliant fresh berries and delicious jam - how wonderful to wake up to this!

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  2. Wow...beautiful preserves with the cute package! I also like your knife...;-)

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  3. I really need to get on with making some summer preserves while the season allows it! Thnks for a great recipe (the addition of limoncello is a great idea)!

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  4. i love all the lemon in this!!!! Your photos are beautiful and i love your cute little labels!

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  5. oh my !! looks strawbelicious :D

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  6. you going to be famous, how cool that you will be on TV!

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  7. Well my last name is Schmucker (close to Smucker) and I know preserves, at least from a consumers point of view. And yours look absolutely scrumptious.

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  8. Sounds like a recipe Omi would be proud of! I would love to try this at home to have on hand to spread over some toast or use to top a sundae!

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  9. Your preserve recipe looks so easy! I tried my hand at blueberry preserves last year, but I think I added too much sugar. Definitely going to try this one this time! :-)

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  10. Your strawberry preserve recipe is very similar to mine, with one difference I thought you might like: I mix the whole strawberries, sugar and lemon juice together the night before, which allows the strawberries to macerate and get all juicy, then I smoosh them up with a potato masher (so there a large bits, but everything's still glooping together. And then I cook it. Because the strawberries are already juicy, you can cook them for even less time, which makes the preserves taste that little bit more fresh. This is particularly useful if you're making a big batch. It's a Darina Allen technique. Love your work! Angela

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  11. The Good Soup: That is a FANTASTIC suggestion! I have some leftover strawberries I was planning to make into more preserves and I am definitely trying your suggestion. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  12. You did an amazing job on your tv appearance. But oh my- that anchor woman.... you handled it well.

    The tart looks beautiful and your work is perfection!

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