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Strawberry-Vanilla Preserves

Serves: Makes 4 to 5 (8-ounce) jars

Ingredients:

  • 2¼ pounds strawberries
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1½ teaspoons calcium water
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin powder

Procedures:

With ripe, in-season strawberries, combined with a smooth, exotic note of fresh vanilla, this preserve is nothing short of heavenly. It will add a bit of flair to the breakfast table (or bagel) of course, but it’s also great in desserts—try it on top of a biscuit with a bit of whipped cream for a spectacular strawberry-vanilla shortcake! The berries in this preserve tend to float to the top during canning, so mix it up well before serving.

Before you begin: Prepare calcium water. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona's pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well. Extra calcium water may be stored in the refrigerator for future use. Wash your jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner ⅔ full with water, bring canner to a rolling boil, and boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them. (Add 1 extra minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.) Reduce heat and allow jars to remain in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small sauce pan, heat to a low simmer, and hold until ready to use. Rinse strawberries and remove stems.

Combine strawberries and the ½ cup of water in a large saucepan. Using a paring knife, slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the vanilla seeds and the bean pod itself to the strawberries. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir carefully— you don’t want to crush the berries. Remove from heat.

Measure 4 cups of the cooked strawberry mixture (saving any extra for another use), and return the measured quantity to the saucepan. Add calcium water and mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine sugar and pectin powder. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

Bring strawberry mixture back to a full boil over high heat. Slowly add pectin-sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve pectin while the preserves come back up to a boil. Once the preserves return to a full boil, remove the pan from the heat. Using tongs, carefully remove the vanilla bean pod from the preserves and discard.

Can Your Preserves: Remove jars from canner and ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, put on lids and screw bands, and tighten to fingertip tight. Lower filled jars into canner, ensuring jars are not touching each other and are covered with at least 1 to 2 inches of water. Place lid on canner, return to a rolling boil, and process for 10 minutes (adjusting for altitude if necessary). Turn off heat and allow canner to sit untouched for 5 minutes, then remove jars and allow to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Confirm that jars have sealed, then store properly. Eat within 1 year. Lasts 3 weeks once opened.

Tip: Unlike jams, which usually require that you mash the fruit, when you’re making preserves, the idea is to keep individual pieces of fruit (or uniformly cut pieces of fruit) mostly whole and intact. For strawberries, small or average-size berries are ideal, though larger berries will work – simply slice them in half if they are too big. To help avoid mashing delicate fruit unintentionally, use a wider saucepan so that fruit has room to spread out and cook evenly without a lot of stirring. And when you do stir, stir with a back-and-forth motion, rather than an up-and-down motion—this way you’ll be less likely to crush the berries.

by Allison Carroll Duffy, Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin

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