Strawberries may be going out of season in much of the country, but the few remaining berries are worth seeking out to preserve à la Canal House Cooks Every Day. Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer have developed a very precise method for preserving these typically finicky berries. Because strawberries are naturally low in pectin, many strawberry preserves contain added pectin. However, Hamilton and Hirsheimer eschew the commercial stuff for good ol' lemon peel (pith included). This addition, combined with a vigorous boil of the sugar and juice, makes for a barely set syrup that envelopes the tender berries.
Why I picked this recipe: I need no convincing to boil a batch of strawberry preserves, and I was curious how effective the lemon peel would be in setting the preserve.
What worked: Every step of the recipe went smoothly; my less-than-ideal strawberries were made into a sweet treat enjoyable for weeks to come.
What didn't: I found it tricky to transfer the preserve into jars after it had cooled and the syrup had turned viscous. Next time, I'll transfer everything to jars after returning the berries to the syrup.
Suggested tweaks: You could take a similar approach to other summer fruit. Stone fruits, like peaches and cherries, would work great. If your strawberries are on the larger side, cut them in half before cooking.
Reprinted with permission from Canal House Cooks Every Day by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer Copyright 2012. Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Makes about 4 half-pints
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:7 hours to overnight
- 4 cups perfect little strawberries, washed and hulled
- 3 cups superfine sugar
- Peel of 1 lemon, including white pith
Put the strawberries in a heavy wide pot. Use a rubber spatula to fold in 1 1/2 cups of the sugar then bring to a boil over medium-high heat, about 5
minutes. Continue to boil for 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.
Fold in the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, return the pot to the heat, and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to lift the berries from the syrup and spread them out on a plate. Return the pot with the syrup to the heat, add the lemon peel, bring to a boil over medium-high, and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the syrup settle, then use a mesh skimmer to skim off any foam. Allow the syrup to cool, then return the berries to the syrup. Cover and set aside until set, about 6 hours or overnight. Remove the lemon peel. Pack the preserves in sterilized jars and refrigerate.