Sunday, July 26, 2009

Think Christmas in July! ...Strawberry Preserves

Pin It Let's face it..it doesn't look like this Christmas is going to be any better than last. What's more, in some respects, it's going to be far worse. If I were you, I would start thinking ahead, particularly if you have a gazillion little presents to give to people you don't much care about.

The strawberry crop this year has been fantastic and with all the sales and specials in the supermarkets, prices have been much lower than last year. Strawberries don't need peeling and pitting and making jam is also a fairly quick process. So why don't you bite the bullet now, set aside some time to make some preserves, can them and put them away for Xmas presents? Remember all those silly little dinner and cocktails parties you are going to have to attend...and your children's teachers, husband's secretary, office co -workers, the next door neighbor who took care of your plants when you went to see your daughter for two weeks, and the list goes on..

In years past, we used to bring along a bottle of wine to the Xmas party. Have you checked prices lately? Nothing decent for under $15. I, for one, would rather get something homemade than something I don't really like or need that is going to get stuffed in a drawer. As far as I'm concerned, you can give me homemade cookies or preserves any day of the year. I think most people would second that motion!

Nowadays, nobody likes to cook, so cooking or baking something for someone else is really special. Another great thing about making preserves is that you can make it way ahead of the holiday rush. Also, if you plan ahead now that the fruit is at its prime, you can come out with something special as well as economical for the holidays. Take advantage of all the 2 for 1 specials at the supermarket or go to Costco. Buy some canning jars, spend a few minutes on a Sunday afternoon stirring a pot and next time you see a fabric sale, buy a yard or two of some cute material. Come Christmas time, when everyone else is scrambling for inexpensive presents, you'll be sitting home smiling like the Cheshire Cat!

Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Start to Finish Time: 60 minutes


Ingredients

Juice of 2 lemons, strained
4-1/2 cups sugar
2 pounds small to medium strawberries, hulled


In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, combine lemon juice and sugar. Cook undisturbed until most of the sugar is melted, about 10 minutes. Gently stir, until sugar is completely melted. Using a moistened pastry brush, wash down any sugar crystals from the side of the pan.

Add strawberries and raise heat to high and gently boil (and gently mash the strawberries) until the mixture reaches 220°-- continue to boil until thickened, about 5 minutes. Let cool about 5 minutes, then spoon the preserves into 6 very clean, 8-ounce canning jars, leaving a 1/4 inch of space at the top, and close with the lids and rings. Let cool and refrigerate or process.

To process, boil the sealed jars for 15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and serve after 2 days or store the preserves in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.

Image from Foodista

Fresh Strawberry Jam on Foodista

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