Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Strawberries are a cheap girl's best friend

I just put up 15 jars of strawberry preserves.

And I'm thinking about going back to get more strawberries so I can use the other 9 jars I have.

After the strawberry tart and the strawberry stuffed french toast, I was just a little strawberried out. So I decided to do something with the rest of the strawberries. that I could share with others.

Some were suggesting freezer jam. But after discovering that freezer jam is dependent upon sugar to act somewhat as a preservative, and, thus, requires enormous amounts of sugar (in most recipes twice the sugar as strawberries), I decided to go the traditional route and make preserves. With traditional jams or preserves, I could control the amount of sugar going into the recipe.

Now mind you, I have only made jam one other time and it was probably ten years ago. I made concord grape jam with grapes from my friend's grape arbor.

Nonetheless, this morning, I acted like I was a total pro and got out my pots for boiling and my sugar and my Pomona Pectin, which I get at the local co-op. Pomona is a pectin made especially for creating low-sugar or no sugar jams and jellies. These types of pectin are available in the grocery store now too. Don't worry, I am not crazy enough to make strawberry preserves with absolutely no sugar. My mother would never forgive me if I did such a thing.

The recipe in the pectin box recommends that you do a test batch with 1 cup of strawberries to make sure it gels up and everything. But you know me, I can't be bothered with testing, mock-ups, measurements, or anything that smacks of meticulous planning.

So I just went for it. Hey, it worked the first time with the grapes and that was much more time consuming cuz I had to smoosh the grapes through a screened collander to get the seeds out. But the grape jam turned out fabulous, so I'm pretty confident about my strawberry preserves.

Anyway, with the help of my man, it only took two hours to put up 15 pots of strawberry preserves. [Yes, you heard me right, I have a man who likes to help me in the kitchen. It doesn't suck.] I ended up using 3 cups of sugar for 10 cups of smashed strawberries. That's a pretty good amount of sugar, but still less than traditional recipes.

These will make great gifts. And just in time for a birthday party I have to go to tonight.

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