Last year, I made one big mistake with my canning. I sealed jar upon jar of fruit butters, only to realize this winter that they wouldn’t satisfy my craving for chunks of real fruit. Were they good for sandwiches, toast and granola bar fillings (snacks on a plane!)? Yes. Did they work well on top of my breakfast crisps or straight from the jar? Not so much.
But it’s okay. It was my first season canning, and I’ve learned my lesson. So this summer, I’ll be keeping my remaining jars of fruit butters in reserve, and focusing on canning whole or bite-sized pieces of fruit.
First up, these strawberry preserves. They were the perfect way to kick off the season. Whole strawberries will be perfect for mixing into yogurt, topping oats, or eating straight out of the jar. But they are also soft and tender enough to be spread over a piece of toast. The tart lime juice brings out the natural strawberry flavors, and the cinnamon and vanilla add a bit of warmth and spice.
Slightly adapted from Canning for a New Generation.
- 3 pounds strawberries
- 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons lime juice (Note: Lemon juice will work in place of lime juice as well.)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Rinse and hull the strawberries. Cut any large strawberries in half. Gently mix with the sugar in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
- Prepare for canning. Wash the jars and flat lids with hot, soapy water. Put the jars in the canning pot and fill the pot with hot water. Heat over medium-high heat to keep the jars hot. Place the lids in a heat-proof bowl.
- Gently pour the strawberries and sugar into a deep stockpot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a colander set over a large bowl.
- Pour the strawberry juice back into the pan. Add the lime juice, cinnamon and vanilla, and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and beginning to thicken, about 15 minutes.
- Return the strawberries to the pan and stir. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries are shiny and soft but still holding their shape.
- Move some of the boiling water from the canning pot into the heat-proof bowl containing the lids. Line the hot jars up on a folded towel, then pour the water out of the heat-proof bowl and off the lids.
- Fill the jars up to ¼” below the rim. Use a clean towel to wipe any preserves off the rims, then top each jar with a lid and a tightened ring. Place the jars back in the canning pot and make sure they are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and process for 5 minutes. Place the jars on a folded towel and allow to sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours. Check the seals of the lids after 1 hour. If a seal has not formed, refrigerate the jar immediately.