Don't ask me how many I ate in the process.
This is the story of how those berries went from this:
It's not nearly as difficult as you might think. You only need 3 ingredients and a bit of time:
- Strawberries (2 quart)
- Sugar (4 cups)
- Lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
Wash and hull about 2 quarts/3 pounds of strawberries.
Depending on how chunky you want your preserves, you can either chop the berries or crush them. You'll end up with about 8 cups of chopped berries or 4 cups of crushed berries.
To the berries, add 4 cups of granulated sugar. (Yes, jam/preserves have a lot of sugar. That's what causes the solution to jell. If you use less sugar, you'll just have to cook the berries longer to concentrate the solution and you'll end up with the same concentration of berries to sugar.)
Mix the sugar and the berries well, cover and put in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, you will have sugary soup with berries. The sugar has drawn out much of the water from the fruit and formed essentially strawberry juice. This process is called macerating, and it works with all kinds of berries.
Cook the liquid over medium heat (use a heat diffuser if you have one. You DO NOT want to scorch this lovely stuff!) until the jelling point is nearly reached. How can you figure that out? Go here. Scroll down the page for photos of what proper jelling looks like when using the spoon test. It took mine about 30 minutes.
When your boiling syrup starts to look thick and glossy, and the drops are merging off the spoon, add the chopped/crushed berries into the pot, and continue cooking until the jelling point is reached. **
- Can the contents (the whole waterbath thing with the jars and the lids)*, or
- Ladle the warm preserves into freezer containers, let cool, freeze
*If you choose to can--which will give you shelf stable jams that you can keep, eat, or share, depending on how generous you are. :) You'll need to follow the directions here, (and/or buy the Ball book) and start cleaning/sterilizing the jars, etc while the strawberry liquid is cooking down.
**Made this way, your preserves will be fairly soft set. And ETA it can take a few days for the preserves to set fully.
***ETA part II: Added 4 TB of balsamic vinegar to the pot before cooking down the juice. Magnificent! Really brings out the flavor of the berries and cuts down some of the sweetness.