Strawberry Preserves (pectin free)

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The strawberries are finally ready in Vermont! We took full advantage of this and visited a local organic berry farm. Over 11 lbs of strawberries later, some serious jamming had to be done. I made two batches of preserves, the first is outlined below and the second was a variation in which I added some frozen blueberries that we picked last summer.

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We are not big fans of sugary fruit in this household, so I kept the added sugar to a minimum and used some maple syrup for additional flavor. I’d much rather taste my strawberries slightly sweetened than taste strawberry flavored sugar.

Strawberry Preserves

14 cups fresh strawberries (cleaned, whole)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup pure VT maple syrup

1/4 cup lemon juice, plus juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp vanilla extract (optional)

1. In a large stock pot over medium heat, add all of the above ingredients. As the mixture warms, mash with a potato masher. The berries get easier to mash as the mixture warms (but the warming increases the chance of splattering). Bring the berries up to a boil and reduce to a summer for about 30-45 minutes or until thick. Remove foam with a spoon, if needed. To test the readiness of the jam, use the spoon test, plate test, or temperature test. Check out this great how-to guide to determine when your preserves are jellied.

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2. In a separate pot, bring 4-5 pint-sized mason jars to a boil. Sterilize for 10 minutes. The number of jars needed will depend on natural pectin and simmering time of the berries.

3. Pour jam into sterilized jars leaving about a 1/2 inch head space. Clean rim and top with a sterilized and unused lid (keep in boiling/hot water until use). Tighten the lid ring lightly and process in boiling water for 10 minutes.

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4. Remove, let cool, listen for the POP (my favorite part), and enjoy whenever you need a fresh berry taste! Store in a cool, dry, and dark place.

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