Thursday, March 7, 2013

Strawberry Preserves

Plant City (near Tampa) is the strawberry growing mecca of Florida and the fruit is at their peak in early March.  Yesterday I got the great news that our house is under contract and we will be moving to Jacksonville and away from Apopka in Central Florida with the most wonderful fruit stand on earth, Maters & Taters Produce, who always gets hundreds of flats of Plant City Goodness.  Here is their FaceBook page.

I watched this video by Bobby Hughes with HP Firearms on how to make and can strawberry preserves.
It is exactly the recipe I was looking for!  For those of you that don't want to watch a 20 minute video, Pioneer Woman has a two-part instructional, but I prefer Bobby's recipe (add PW's pat of butter though). I hull my fruit with a knife, but I prefer to do PW's style of mashing the strawberries with a potato masher, but not as finely) instead of Bobby's cutting into chunks, which seems too much like work to me.
Pioneer Part I - Making strawberry jam/preserves and Pioneer Part II - canning
10 cups diced or mashed strawberries (4 lbs)
9 3/4 cups sugar (4 lbs)
9 T Ball brand pectin (1/2 C + 1 T)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 T butter
3/8 cup water (that's 1/4 C + a half of 1/4 C)
12 half-pint jars, lids, bands
1 Canning pot of water
2 T vinegar

  • Start heating canning pot of water with 12 half pint jars standing upright and with just enough to cover the rims of the jars.  Bring to almost a boil while you make the preserves.
  • Put strawberries in a large pot with heat on 6 (medium).
  • Add: water, lemon juice, and pectin (half at a time, stirring it in well)
  • Add a pat of butter so you won't end up with a big pile of foam.
  • Bring heat up to 8 to boil.  
  • Reduce heat  to 6 and slowly stir in the sugar.  It will start to thicken and darken.
  • Take heat back to 8 and stir every 30 seconds or so to keep sugar from sticking to bottom of pot.
  • Bring to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat and stir for 3 minutes, then let it rest
  • Skim off foam with a teaspoon. (It's great on toast!)
  • Pour a jar of boiling water over lids and rims.
  • Reduce water heat and remove half of the jars to a towel near the stove.
  • Add 2 T vinegar to the water so the jars won't come out cloudy.
  • Ladle strawberry and juice into the jars, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch headroom
  • Clean jar rims well (sticky strawberry juice will prohibit the lids from sealing).
  • Place lids and finger tighten (snug but not tight) bands
  • Put the filled jars in the hot water and remove the empties to fill. Once you have all twelve lidded jars in the water, it should just cover the tops by just under an inch of water
  • Bring heat back up to 7-8 so the water will boil.
  • Once the water is at a continuous rolling boil, set your kitchen timer for 10 minutes 
  • Remove from heat and set timer for 5 minutes of "sitting in the water to calm down" time.
  • Finally, gently and upright, move jars to a towel to sit overnight to cool.  After a few minutes of cooling, you should hear the pop-pop-pop of lids sucking in (sealing).  Listen for 12.  You can test the tops by pressing a (cooled jar) lid in the middle and if it pops back, it didn't seal.  Those jars should go in the fridge (and gifted to friends) to be used first.  The rest can sit on a pantry shelf for up to five years, but in reality, they won't last that long!
One flat of strawberries and five pounds of sugar produced just over 10 pints (20 cups) of jam.
My house smells delicious!

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