Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Strawberry Preserves (no-pectin recipe)

I wasn't planning to put up any food this month -- we're headed out of town for three weeks on Friday, and I've been so busy with travel plans that I promised myself no major gardening or preserving projects -- but the strawberries at Findlay farmshed Saturday morning just looked too wonderful. So I decided to do one batch of strawberry preserves.

I don't like added pectin in my preserves. The texture seems rubbery instead of gooey, and I'd rather do a little more work and get exactly what I want. Ripe strawberries don't have much pectin of their own, so most people either add pectin, add a fruit that does have pectin and make a combination preserve, or enjoy their yummy if runny preserves. But there's another way.

When I bought three quarts of gorgeous berries from Neltner, I was careful to select quarts that had a few berries with green tips -- this is the first secret to making no-pectin strawberry jam. There's pectin in unripe strawberries, and those with a little green left on them have plenty of pectin. The berries in this picture still have some green on them. You only need a handful of berries with green tips in each quart to provide enough pectin to gel your preserves.

I wash, hull, and roughly mash the berries -- leaving a lot of big chunks, as in my opinion that's what preserves are all about -- and then after I've brought it to a full rolling boil for five minutes, I pour the whole thing into a sieve to strain the berries from the syrup and put the syrup back into the pot for further cooking. That's the extra work part, but it's also the second secret to making no-pectin strawberry preserves. Cooking and cooking and cooking the entire thing down until it's reduced will also work to prevent runny preserves, but it also tends to produce a 'cooked' taste. Which is still good, but I want a fresh taste. So I reduce only the syrup, then add the berries back in after the syrup has reached the gelling point.

STRAWBERRY PRESERVES
Yield: approximately 3 8-oz jars of preserves per quart of berries

Strawberries, a few slightly unripe, slightly mashed
1 c sugar per cup of mashed berries
1 T lemon juice per cup of mashed berries (optional, but I find the lemon juice brightens the taste.)

Fill canning kettle with water to cover 1/2-pint jars by 2 inches, cover, bring to a boil, and keep it there.

Set 1/2 pint (8-oz) jars and lids into a pan of hot water over lowest heat. You'll need 1 jar per cup of mashed berries.

Wash and hull strawberries. Mash to big chunks and measure by the cupful into a large heavy non-aluminum pot. Add 1 cup of sugar per cup of mashed berries, cover, and leave for several hours. Bring to a full rolling boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the sugar from sticking and burning. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve into a bowl, allowing syrup to drip through sieve for a few minutes. Set the sieve aside, return syrup to pot, add lemon juice, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly and boiling on high heat until candy thermometer reads between 220 and 222. Return contents of sieve to pot and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and ladle into hot 1/2-pint jars, leaving 1/2" headroom. Wipe jar rims with damp cloth, cover with hot lids and screw on lid rims without tightening. (The lid rims are only there to hold the lids in place during processing; tightening them can both interfere with processing and cause you to dislodge the lids when removing the lid rims before storing your preserves.) Set jars into canning rack and drop into boiling water in kettle. Cover kettle and process 10 minutes, remove from water, and set on rack to cool. Once cool, check seals (press gently in the center of the lid -- if you feel a slight pop and the center flexes down and then back up again, the lid didn't form a seal and that jar should be refrigerated and used within six months), remove lid rims and label.

Now to make some cream biscuits to put it on.

59 comments:

fearlesschef said...

Hey, thanks for your insight... I am heading to the farmer's market in Mansfield this weekend and possibly hitting the berry patches on the edge of town, if I can't find any at the market. Using pectin is so frustrating for me, so I will be sure to inspect the berries and follow your directions... and then share them with the group of us who will be mad canners this weekend!

valereee said...

fearlesschef, please let me know how it turns out for you! This is an original recipe I've made many times, but it's always helpful to me to have feedback on how well my instructions work for others!

Jen (Modern Beet) said...

great article! I did a bit of my own preserve making this past weekend -- eureka lemon marmalade -- tasty! Strawberries are abundant right now (and not too $$$) at my farmer's market, so I'll definitely give this a try. Great tip about unripe strawberries being full of pectin -- I had no idea!

valereee said...

Jen, thanks! What's your definition of not too pricey? I bought berries for $5/qt this past weekend, but here in SW Ohio it's the very beginning of the strawberry season. In a couple of weeks they'll be dirt cheap, but I won't be here. My sister is planning to can next week and told me she was thinking of using the $2/qt SUPERMARKET BERRIES! For which read: conventionally-grown berries shipped from California. My own sister! I told her I didn't think they were worth canning, and that if she wanted to save money she should consider picking her own instead.

Beverly said...

Valeree-
We went to McGlasson's Farm in Hebron last Fri & picked 7lb of strawberries. They were fantastic & only $1.50/lb. I thought that was a great price. Not to mention, they're on route 8 which meant a nice drive along the river.
So, Sat nite, I was making pectin-free jam. I follow Amanda Hesser's recipe from The Cook & The Gardener. I added some grapefruit zest, making it not too sweet. For the first 2 or 3 days, I was trying to incorporate my jam into every meal!

valereee said...

Beverly, what's a quart equal to, maybe 3/4 pound or so? So, yeah, ~$2/qt is a great price! Wow, grapefruit zest is a great idea to cut the sweetness of all the sugar -- I'll have to look for that cookbook.

Veggie Option said...

Yum! I love strawberry preserves. Unfortunately the weeds took over our strawberry patch and we didn't get them cleared in time, so no berries for us this year.

kale for sale said...

I smiled the entire time reading this and only wish you'd written it sooner. I dutifully cut the green bottoms off each strawberry that had one and ended up with a runny jam. Not that I don't still love it. And being a beginner I didn't know to take the rings off the jars either. Thanks.

Jen (Modern Beet) said...

At the market last weekend, strawberries were $3/pint -- they were $4 about two weeks ago, and I bet they'll keep dropping for another month or so to about $2/pint... I've recently seen berries at the supermarket for about $2/pint, but they were huge and nearly white inside -- not the ripe little red gems of sweetness I can get at the farmer's market... peaches and apricots are starting to show up too -- yum!

valereee said...

Katrina, rims can rust if left in place (which makes them not reusable and makes the jars they were on suspect), so unless you'll be moving your jars (for instance, if you were going to take them to market) most people take them off when putting the jars into storage. But it's not a huge deal at all if you forget to remove them right away. And that runny jam makes a GREAT ice cream syrup!

Jen, peaches and apricots! We won't have those here until probably July! I'll be back home then. What shall I make with apricots this year?

Debs said...

It's been so cold and wet here, we haven't seen many strawberries yet. Soon, though. And I'm going to San Francisco this weekend where I'll no doubt find good fruit at the farmers' market.

Do you know if it's possible to make strawberry preserves, canned strawberries, or freezer jam without any sugar? Or with very little?

Thanks!

Debs

Food Is Love

valereee said...

Debs, absolutely you can make strawberry jam without sugar! There are no-sugar pectins that you can use if you want. If you don't want added pectin =or= added sugar, there are recipes for 'spreads' rather than jams -- think apple butter -- there's one in The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving that calls for 5c strawberries, a Granny Smith apple, lemon rind, pineapple juice concentrate, lemon juice, vanilla, and only 2 T of sugar for a recipe that yields 3.5 c.

vudutu said...

Val first off have a great, safe trip, guess we will miss you at market again! Second I have to hip you to a great product. Since we don't do sugar it has been a great find!

http://www.pomonapectin.com/

"Pomona's Universal Pectin" is a sugar-free, low-methoxyl citrus pectin that is activated by calcium. Since it does not require sugar to jell, jams and jellies can be made with less, little, or no sugar.

valereee said...

Thanks, vudutu! Are you happy with the texture of the jams you make with the Pomona pectin?

vudutu said...

Val, yes, you have to learn it, you can over do it and end up with tough jello.

Expatriate Chef said...

Thanks for your submission to this week's Carnival of Recipes. Dont' forget to link your post to the carnival at The Expatriate's Kitchen

eric said...

Can you just throw in a little lemon zest for pectin?

Carolyn said...

I made strawberry jam too!!

I am from Dayton. I am adding you to my favorites!

eric said...

Acutally not bad for first try. I barely had any green (tiny bit on 2-3 berries) and got it to gel pretty good. Good enough that it doesn't move for 3-4 seconds after you turn it over.

Rosemary said...

Thank you for submitting this to the Blog Carnival.

Rosemary
http://mydiyhometips.com/2008/06/17/blog-carnival-edition-no-2/

Shauna said...

I'm making a birthday cake for my daughters 10th birthday, and she LOVES strawberries. I'm going to use a recipe I have that calls for preserves, and I'm going to make preserves from our fresh strawberries using your recipe! Thank you so much for sharing a no pectin recipe.

Dan said...

I'm trying to figure out what to do with my berries and this post gave me a lot of food for thought. Thanks very much.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Thank you!
My mother is serving a mission for our church in Ecuador and she has been asked several times to try to teach the women (and men) homemaking skills. Pectin is something that they just don't have there so this recipe will be fantastic. Thanks again!

valereee said...

Eric, yes, lemon zest has lots of pectin. You seldom hear of people ending up with runny marmalades. Did you use the lemon zest?

Not moving for a few seconds is about what you're looking for. When judges at state fairs judge preserves and jams, they turn the jar on its side and watch to see how it moves. It should separate from the side, but not right away.

Anonymous said...

does any one no why you are not suppossed to move preserves while they are cooling. I have a book and it says don't move them for 12-24 hrs. Is that true and if so what happens if you move them? I just made strawberry preserves and mailed them to someone I don't want them to get sick. I have a recipe similar to yours and I use all natural turbindino sugar.

valereee said...

As far as I know, the only problem with moving them is that it's easier to knock the seal off when they are still a bit warm (and the vaccuum pressure inside isn't as strong.) If they arrive to the person with the seal intact (she can check it by lifting the jar by the edge of the lid) then they're fine. If she's at all concerned, have her refrigerate them and use within 6 months.

VicinSea said...

Has anyone ever heard of adding cornstarch to preserves? My mother always mixed cornstarch into the sugar before adding it to the boiling fruit. I was 11 or so the last time she made preserves and I can't remember why or how much she added. Any help or ideas on this would be appreciated.

valereee said...

VicinSea, I've seen recipes for chutneys and relishes (from veggies with little natural pectins) that called for cornstarch, and my dad tosses sliced apples with spiced flour before freezing for apple pies. I would think cornstarch would help with the thickening process, but I don't know of a modern fruit preserves recipe that calls for it. If you find one, I'd love to hear about it!

Wendy Peck said...

Found this yesterday and it sounded like exactly what I was looking for. It sure is. I made a batch this morning, and it is the best of the three batches I have made this year. One was "cooked" to jam, the second with Light Certo (less sugar than fruit) and this one. Your method has the best texture and taste by a long shot. Great site. I'm about a 90% pure 100-mile diet diner, so you are preaching to the choir with me, but excellent presentation and info.

valereee said...

Wendy, thank you so much for reporting back on your success with the recipe! I'm always so grateful to hear other people's experiences with my recipes! I'm glad it worked for you.

ame said...

Thank you!!! It was my first attempt at making strawberry preserves, and I got it right :) I could not have been more elated. Thank you for your recipe and tips - very useful and informative. To all those who wanna give it a try, take heed of all that is been said. It turned out great for me. It will for you too.

valereee said...

ame, thanks for reporting back -- I'm glad the recipe worked for you!

chall2 said...

ok...how long do you have to boil the mix..to get to 220 or 222? I boiled for like 20mins and it never got above 218.

The mix came out very runnie. I even had pectin (1 box). Tje strawberries I used had no green ends hence the the pectin.

Any suggestions? One recipe I read said if it doesn't set right just power it back into the pot and boil it again adding pictin?

valereee said...

chall, have you canned it and allowd it to cooled completely? If not, allow it to cool in the jars overnight and see how it looks. Pectin can also take up to a month to set up, so just set it and watch.

If you had it at a full rolling boil for 20 minutes at 218, I suspect you're fine.

Let me know in a month, though, whether your jam did set up!

chall2 said...

Thsnk for the help.

The preserves I have tasted, kept one in the refrig, taste great.

I'm sure it is something I have done to the recipe. I have done 3 or 4 different recipes. I likes yours the best so far.

But, I seriously have not been able to get any of the recipes up to the 220 mark. How long does it normally take to get it to that temp?

************* said...

Your recipe and tips were so helpful! Made these preserves yesterday (6.7.09) using unripe berries and lemon rind. The mashed berries texture is much better than a gelatinous jelly! Posted more details at baltimorediy.blogspot.com. Thanks again!

Mom said...

Great blog! Here's how I make my no pectin strawberry jam:

http://motherskitchen.blogspot.com/2009/06/canning-strawberry-jam-without-pectin.html

valereee said...

chall2, it can take quite a while -- in order to get it to 220, you have to boil off most of the water, because water will only get to 212. Once the water is boiled off and you're left with boiling sugar, the temperature will start to crawl up pretty quick.

valereee said...

Mom, thanks for the link to your recipe -- I always ignored those recipes calling for apples because I thought the preserves would taste too much like apples, but I may try this year!

Anonymous said...

Valereee, Is it OK to substitute honey or maple syrup for the sugar? I love the idea about adding unripe strawberries. We grow our own strawberries and always pick a few unripe ones by mistake, so now I will save those and use them in my jam. Thanks!

valereee said...

I'm afraid if you sub honey or maple syrup, all you'll taste is the sweetener. Both honey and maple syrup have strong flavors of their own, and the cooking down will strengthen that flavor further. The advantage of sugar is that it has no flavor of its own -- it's just sweetness. Now, if you're using a fruit that would benefit from the flavor -- pears with honey, for instance, or apples with maple syrup -- you could replace some of the sugar with another sweetener. But I think I'd probably try to find a recipe that specifically called for the other sweetener. There's a book called Putting It Up With Honey I've seen on Amazon, but I haven't looked through it in person.

Little Fish said...

Hi, I came by your recipe on Google just as I was about to throw out my white-ish strawberries, figuring they'd be sour. I was delighted to learn they'd help the setting, and sure enough the jam came out wonderfully - not runny in the least, but looser than store-bought, which is nice. My success was relieving after a horrific first attempt at kiwi jam ending in a batch of hard candy and a "jam just isn't for me" resignation. Thanks so much for a great recipe!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your recipe! I used your technique and loved the result. Less cooking of the fruit and no additives made the preserves wonderful! I did strain the mixture before jarring and got two jars of strawberry syrup out of the deal too! Thanks again!

Meredith said...

That worked! My jam wasn't runny at all! Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, that was extremely valuable and interesting...I will be back again to read more on this topic.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic blog, I had not come across cincinnatilocavore.blogspot.com before in my searches!
Continue the good work!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the link, but unfortunately it seems to be down... Does anybody have a mirror or another source? Please answer to my post if you do!

I would appreciate if a staff member here at cincinnatilocavore.blogspot.com could post it.

Thanks,
Harry

valereee said...

Harry, do you mean the link to the cream biscuit recipe? It seems to be up now -- maybe it was just a temporary issue?

Anonymous said...

Greetings,

I have a message for the webmaster/admin here at cincinnatilocavore.blogspot.com.

May I use part of the information from this post right above if I provide a backlink back to your website?

Thanks,
James

valereee said...

James, yes, feel free!

Wendi said...

Are you available to speak to a garden club about preserving local food? Or know someone who is?

Anonymous said...

Oh my...just made a small batch with this recipe - best I've ever made! I didn't have pectin and I didn't want to run out to the store, so I googled recipes sans pectin. The texture is amazing. Used fresh strawberries from my garden. This won't last long in my house. Thanks!

John said...

Hey, this is great. I didn't have to run to the store in the middle of the night to search for pectin to satisfy my desire to make jam. I mashed and sugared the berries and let them sit covered in the fridge all night. This morning I cooked them according to direction (had to guess at the temp--I'm a guy--I've got a meat thermometer; that's as close as I can get right now). 2 and 1/2 jars. The 1/2 has set up a little too firmly for homemade, but seems fine. The 2 full jars have set up so that, when tipped, the jam clings to the glass and then slowly slides away; a very nice gooey jam. I already know how it tastes! Very nice, simple recipe--and it worked, too. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Can this be used for a freezer jam? I want to put of some strawberries but dont have the canning equipment but freezing is up my ally. Thanks Tracy

Tagan Engel said...

Thank you for the wonderful recipe. I was searching for a pectin free strawberry jam recipe and came across your blog. I am a sustainable food chef but haven't made a ton of jam, so this was a fun experiment. I added lemon verbena and thyme to my jams, they were great!! thank you for the help! I posted a link to your recipe on my blog: taganskitchen.blogspot.com
with my modifcations. thanks again!-T

Lisac said...

By far this recipe has all the best kept secrets of making tasty strawberry jam! I can't thank you enough for sharing.

DesertRose said...

Hi Valeree,

I've recently discovered I have some food intolerances. One is I can't consume fruit and sugar together and the other is potato.

I love to make jam/fruit spread and am in a quandry now. There are recipes with no commercial pectin (which always seems to contain potato) but you need sugar; there are recipes with no sugar, but you need pectin.

I never use any artificial sweeteners and I don't like stevia, etc. But I do use fructose.

So.... do you think I could make your recipe with no pectin, but use fructose instead of sugar? I realize honey or maple syrup (my back-ups for sugar) will affect the flavor. But it seems that pure fructose wouldn't do that. Any advice?

Thanks!
Desert Rose

valereee said...

Anonymous, yes, you could easily freeze this jam. You might want to find a freezer-jam recipe instead, though.

valereee said...

Desert Rose, I'm not sure how fructose 'gels' -- whether it thickens like sugar or not! Can you make hard candy out of fructose? If so, then you can probably make jam.