Back in the day, BK, (before kids) I could be found wiling away my time during the summer months preserving fruits and veggies. Such a simple procedure for such a delicious and worthy outcome. What is more wonderful than popping the sealed lid from a jar of home canned preserves, tomatoes, okra or green beans in the dead of winter?
Somewhere down the line I decided I’d not have time for such and sold my canning “stuff” in a garage sale. I think it was the overworked, sleep deprived mom in me making that decision. Now as an empty nester I’m feeling a new freedom. I seem to have more time on my hands, time for things such as canning the last of the sweet summer strawberries.
Of course I found myself in line at Wal-Mart purchasing a new canner and a box of jelly jars. I’d purchased the ripe berries a couple of days before with the sole intent of turning them into preserves. I’d been mulling over ideas for making these preserves extra special and when I hit on the notion of adding honey in place of some of the sugar I was on a mission.
Earlier this summer when the peaches were turning ripe faster than I could pick them I made freezer preserves. Freezer preserves are very easy to make and hold their color very nicely. It was a quick way to save my peaches from rotting on the ground or kitchen counter.
Each jar of preserves stands ready for slathering on toast, biscuits, or muffins as well as drizzling over ice cream, yogurt or pound cake. The peach preserves are beautiful to look at and the fresh peach flavor is amazing. It equals biting into a fresh picked peach. The strawberry preserves with honey and vanilla, melt in your mouth. The honey gives them a buttery feel with undertones of fresh vanilla bean, I must say they are addictive.
Honey-Vanilla Strawberry Preserves
4 cups chopped strawberries
1 vanilla bean, split
1 cup sugar
1 cup pure honey
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Before beginning to cook preserves prepare canning pot, jars and lids.
Add all ingredients to a heavy pot, stir and mash berries with a potato masher. Bring to a boil. Continue boiling mixture for about 10 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 220*. Stir occasionally to prevent any berries from sticking. When mixture has reached your desired consistency, remove vanilla pods, and pour into prepared jars, leaving 1/4 ” space at the top of the jar. Add lids and return to a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Allow to cool overnight without disturbing. Store in a cool, dry place. Yield: 3 – 1/2 pints
Fresh Peach Freezer Preserves
2 1/4 cup chopped peaches
2 tbsp. lemon juice
4 1/2 cups sugar
1 box pectin
3/4 cup water
Combine prepared fruit in a large bowl with lemon juice. Add sugar, mixing thoroughly and let stand for about 10 minutes.
In a small saucepan stir one box of pectin into 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Stir pectin into fruit mixture and stir until sugar is completely dissolved and no longer grainy, about 3 minutes.
Pour fruit mixture into prepared jars, leaving 1/2″ of space for expansion during freezing. Place lids on jars and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours until set. Refrigerate for 3 weeks or freeze for up to one year. Thaw in refrigerator. Yield: 5 – 1/2 pints