Strawberry season is probably my favorite time of year, because I have no idea how anyone can get sick of strawberries. They’re delicious and versatile and a lot of fun to preserve.
This past weekend, we went strawberry picking, and the day worked out somewhere along these lines (the timeline is a little fuzzy…):
- 12:30pm – Pick strawberries
- 2pm – Bring strawberries home & eat
- 2:30pm – Start canning strawberries
- 5:00pm – First batch of jam made
- 7:00pm – Second batch of jam made
- 9:00pm – Strawberry syrup made
- 11:00pm – Strawberry butter made
- 1:00am – Pie filling made
However it worked out, it was more than 12 hours start to finish, but we ended up canning 20 pounds of strawberries after picking them earlier in the day.
Canning can be a really overwhelming process, but there are a lot of excellent resources out there to get you started. Some are free and others are worth a little bit of investment.
Two great websites I look to often are pickyourown.org and freshpreserving.com. The second site is actually run by Ball, which you may know as makers of pretty much every mason jar you see. The site has tons of recipes, advice on tools to buy, and best practices for safe canning. I highly recommend giving them a visit.
I also pulled a couple recipes from the book, Canning for a New Generation. The recipes in this book are on the other side of the canning spectrum compared with Ball. While Ball recipes are all traditional (lots of pectin, lots of sugar) these recipes are fairly low in sugar, and promote more use of citrus and real apples and low-sugar pectins. I figured pulling ideas from both camps would help me figure out what I liked the best.
I ended up making three recipes from the Canning for a New Generation book: Strawberry Jam with Lemon Zest, Strawberry & Chamomile Syrup, and Spiced Strawberry Butter (using the pulp left over from the syrup).
I used two traditional recipes – one from Ball’s website for traditional strawberry jam, and one from a canning site for strawberry pie filling. Word to the wise – Clear Jel may really freak you out the first time you use it, but yes, it’s supposed to get that cohesive, so just roll with it.
We just got a crate of Tree-Ripe peaches in the other day, so we’ll be canning those soon as well. What do you like canning in the summer months? Share your favorite recipes in a comment below!