Cary, NC — If you’ve ever made (and canned) homemade strawberry preserves, then you know that it’s quite the process. I always make a mess but end with a success!
Canning Strawberry Preserves
Canning is definitely messy, but it’s well worth it. I, for one, seem to always underestimate how much room I have in my pot of boiling preserves. The sticky–but delicious–mixture almost always boils over and makes a huge mess. I may or may not have started a (small) stove-top fire this year.
Just make sure that the preserves only fill half of your pot (before boiling), and you’re set.
Put simply, canning strawberry preserves consists of these steps:
Set Up Your Station
Wash your canning jars, bands and lids well in warm, soapy water. Dry thoroughly.
You can re-use jars and bands from year-to-year; just make sure they’re clean and in good condition. The lids (which seal to the jar) can’t be re-used.
Then, set up your station on the stove. Set a small pot of warm water on the back burner (keep the lids and bands warm in there while you work), place a large pot on one front burner (to cook the preserves) and place a deep, large pot on the other front burner (for your jars).
Place your clean, empty canning jars in your deep pot, and let the water heat up. Once the water starts to boil, let the jars boil steadily for ten minutes to sterilize them.
Prepare Your Strawberries
Wash and cap your strawberries (leave as much strawberry as possible, but make sure stems and dark spots are removed). I let them dry on clean dish towels.
It’s a good idea to sterilize extra canning jars and have them at-the-ready in case you make more preserves than you thought you originally thought you would.
Next, mush thee berries up! I like to use an “immersion blender,” but you can use a slotted spoon or food processor, too. I like to leave just a few pieces of strawberry in the mixture.
Add Other Ingredients & Start Cooking
As you transfer this strawberry pulp to your large pot (remember, fill the pot no more than half way), measure how much you’ve added. You’ll need to know how many cups you have to know how much pectin and how much sugar to add in a minute.
I haven’t included the sugar-to-pectin-to-preserves ratio, because, depending on strawberry size and quantity, everyone makes a different amount. You can find the ratio online.
I use a large glass measuring cup to transfer the pulp to the pot. I also make sure I have my jars out of the boiling water, upright and ready, with hot pads nearby, before I begin cooking. The bands and lids can stay in the pot of warm water.
Cook the strawberry pulp on medium heat. Once it’s warm, turn the heat up and add your pectin. Stir rapidly so it doesn’t clump. One the pectin is dissolved and the mixture starts to boil, you can add your sugar. Add slowly, stirring as you go. Once you’ve added both the pectin and sugar, you’ll need to let the mixture stay at a rolling boil (one you can’t stir away) for one minute.
Finishing the Job
Remove the pot from the heat, and start filling your jars until they’re just below the brims (I use a funnel and a measuring cup to transfer the hot mixture to the jars).
Make sure the rims of your jars are clean by wiping each with a damp towel. This is a very important step in canning, because, if your rims are sticky, your lids won’t seal properly.
Attach your warm lids and bands to each jar of preserves. Make sure your large pot is full with enough boiling water that it will cover two inches above the jars when they’re placed upright. Boil the jars at a rolling boil for at least five minutes. Remove with tongs.
You’ll hear little “pings” as your jars seal. Try not to touch the lids for 24 hours.
If any of your jars didn’t seal (there will be a “bubble” in the lid if this is the case), no worries. Just place the jars that didn’t seal in your refrigerator, and try to use them in the next month. Sealed jars can be placed in the pantry until they’re ready to use.
Story and photos by Jessica Patrick. Lead photo by BellaEatsBooks.