Strawberry Conserves from 'Canal House Cooks Every Day'


[Photograph: Hamilton and Hirsheimer]

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.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Canal House Cooks Every Day to give away this week.