Preserving Summer’s Very Best

June 23, 2010

Hey everyone, it’s summer berry season, so I’m off to the farmer’s market this week to make my annual batch of preserves.  This is a repost from last summer, but I just had to share it again ! 

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Every summer, I go to the farmer’s market to buy enough summer berries to make my mixed berry preserves.  I was given a recipe by Mr. CG’s grandmother years ago for refrigerator preserves.  I tweaked her recipe by adding my own special ingredient, and then learned how to can it four years ago.  Now we enjoy mixed berry summer preserves even on the coldest wintery day.   

I start with the freshest fruit.  I use strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.  After they’re rinsed, they look just like this.   

mixed fruit rinsed

fruit crop

 This recipe does involve the canning process, but don’t be intimidated if you’ve never canned anything before!    All you really need is a very large pot and you can make these preserves quite easily.   

Mixed Berry Summer Preserves

6 baskets of strawberries (or 3 lbs.)

4 baskets of blueberries (24 oz.)

6 baskets of raspberries (36 oz.)

6 baskets of blackberries (36 oz.)

Juice from 2 lemons

Zest from 2 oranges

4 cups of sugar

Low or No sugar Pectin*

12 Pint size canning jars

(This recipe makes 12 pints of preserves)

*For those new to canning, note that pectin is not a preservative.  It is a natural extract from citrus fruit that acts as a thickening agent in jams and jellies. 

Begin by rinsing your fruit and trimming your strawberries.  You should end up with 2 large bowls of fruit.  Put fruit aside.   Prep your jars by boiling them in hot water.  Just follow the directions on the bottom of the box that the jars came in. 

After your jars are sanitized, then mix your fruit together, and place in 2 large pots on your stove.  (If you have only 1 pot, you can cut the recipe in half, or just repeat after the first batch is done.)  Add the juice of 1 lemon, the zest from 1 orange, and 1.5 cups of sugar to each pot.

pots on stove  

Bring your fruit to a boil and stir every minute.  You’ll see your fruit will begin to break down like this. 

fruit breaks down

You will cook your fruit about 10 minutes, but no more.  It will begin to turn a bit more liquid and form a bit of foam at the surface. Six minutes into the boiling process, and four minutes before your fruit is fully cooked, add 1/2 box of low sugar pectin to each pot, and stir to allow it to dissolve.   After 10 minutes of cooking, turn the heat off, and ladle your chunky fruit mixture into your jars.  Leave 1/3 inch of headspace at the top. 

chunky fruit

Wipe the rim of your jar to allow your lid to seal properly.

clean rim

Seal your jar of preserves with a lid and rim, then place your jars into a large pot and cover with boiling water.  Process, or boil, your jars for 12 minutes.   Remove your jars from the water and listen for the “pop” that occurs when your jars are sealed.  Properly canned fruit will keep for a year on your pantry shelf !  It helps if you invest in the canning jar tongs wherever canning supplies are sold.  It is the best tool for removing hot jars from boiling water, but I’ve also used metal salad tongs in the past.  

Allow your jars to cool for 24 hours.  I always make my own labels every year, because I give away a lot of these preserves at Christmas time as gifts.

label

single jar of preserves

On the coldest wintery day, there is nothing better than tea and toast with these preserves.  The orange zest brings out the flavor of your summer fruit and brightens the most blustery day – enjoy !

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