(Updated – May 13, 2020)
Our friends at Pomona’s Universal Pectin wanted to share this Strawberry-Vanilla Preserves recipe with us. The recipe is from their book Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin by Allison Carroll Duffy (Fair Winds Press, June 2013). As strawberries come to season in your neck of the woods, this recipe should be on your list.
Allison says that ripe, in-season strawberries, combined with a smooth, exotic note of fresh vanilla, makes this preserve 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. Wondering what calcium water is? Calcium water is a solution of the monocalcium phosphate powder (food-grade rock mineral source) that comes in its own packet with every purchase of Pomona’s Pectin. The Pomona’s Pectin directions tell you how to make calcium water with the calcium powder. Pomona’s Pectin recipes call for calcium water because the pectin is activated by calcium, not by sugar. You can read more about calcium water here.
Wash your jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 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 saucepan, heat to a low simmer, and hold until ready to use.
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.
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: Shapely Strawberries
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.