After picking a ton of strawberries a week and a half ago, I put the word out on twitter asking what I should do with them. My favorite suggestion was from Jennie who suggested I make jam or conserve with them. I was planning to make some jam and strawberry ice cream, but her suggestion of conserve got me all excited. Conserve is basically a soft set jam with chunks of fruit. I knew that my just picked strawberries would be fantastic in this form and had to give it a try.
I had never made conserve before so consulted with some experienced canners I know, women in their sixties who grew up canning, learning it from their mothers who depended on canning during the Great Depression. They all told me the same thing, “You have to just let the berries sit in sugar.”
Easier said than done. I kept wanting to check on them, taste them. But I was only supposed to stir them occasionally so I patiently restrained myself.
Now their next instructions differed. One woman uses pectin, which is like $3 a box! One woman skips a thickener all together. But the other two ladies use lemon peels, a method I think is both natural and affordable.
Now this won’t get as thick or set like a regular jam. But you can do SO many fun things with it! I love to spread crackers with a little goat cheese with a slice of prosciutto and a spoonful of conserve. It’s also great on pancakes, waffles or ice cream. It’s kind of like a fresh homemade strawberry sauce with whole berries. I also mix it into homemade salad dressing.
How would you use this delightful conserve?
Strawberry Conserve RecipePrep time: 1 hour, only 5 minutes active time Cook time: 6-8 minutes Total time: up to 1 hour 15 minutes, maximum 15 minutes active time Yield: about 1 quart
- 1 lb
hulled strawberries, cut into halves or quarters
- 1/2 cup
- Mix together strawberries and sugar in a pot. Let sit for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- While berries are sitting, juice the lemon (reserving the juice for something else like strawberry lemonade) and cut the peel into quarters.
- Add the lemon peel to the sugared berries and heat the pot on medium high. Let simmer 3 minutes.
- Use a fork or slotted spoon to transfer the berries to a jar. Continue simmering the liquid for 3-5 minutes until reduced by half. Pour over the berries. Refrigerate up to 3 months.
Approximate cost/serving: Since I got the berries as part of my CSA this hardly cost me anything. If you bought berries in the store in season it would probably be around $2. I’d call two TBS a serving so that’s just 3 cents a serving! It costs even less if you grow your own berries.
Vegetarian/Gluten free: Yes to both and vegan too.
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