Classic Strawberry Preserves

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Perfect for beginners, this recipe offers a simple yet rewarding start into the world of home canning. Use fresh, ripe strawberries and a few basic ingredients. Strawberry Preserves have larger pieces of fruit than jam, making it just right for spreading on your morning toast.

You’ll love how simple this recipe is and how perfectly it captures summer.

A single jar of strawberry preserves with vibrant red color, sealed with a silver lid and placed on a white surface with whole strawberries around it.

Strawberry Preserves Recipe

Simple ingredients made into a delicious fruit spead. Makes 6 half-pints.
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Equipment

  • 6 half-pint canning jars with lids and bands
  • Large canning pot with rack
  • clean cloths

Ingredients 

  • 4 cups crushed strawberries about 2 pounds of fresh strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1.75 ounce package powdered pectin
  • 4 cups granulated sugar

Instructions 

  • Prep canning supplies. Wash and heat your canning jars. They do not need to be sterile, but need to be hot. A 200-degree oven or a pot of hot water are good options. Place your lids and rings in simmering water.
  • Prepare the strawberries. Wash and hull the fruit. Use a potato masher, fork, or the back of a spoon to gently crush the strawberries. You're aiming for a mix of smaller mashed pieces and larger chunks. Unlike strawberry jam, where you want a more uniform and smoother consistency, preserves should have larger fruit pieces. You should have 4 cups of crushed strawberries.
    A bowl of strawberries with a masher in it, illustrating the mashing of strawberries to the desired consistency for making preserves.
  • Combine strawberries with lemon juice and pectin. In a large, non-reactive pot, mix the crushed strawberries, lemon juice, and powdered pectin. Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring frequently.
    large pot of crushed strawberries and lemon juice bubblling.
  • Add sugar. Add the sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
    The same pot showing the preserves with a mound of white sugar in the center before being mixed, indicating the addition of sugar to the fruit.
  • Remove from heat. After 1 minute, remove the pot from the heat. Skim off any foam with a spoon.
  • Fill jars with preserves. Use a ladle and canning funnel to fill the jars with the hot preserves, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
    Jars filled with crushed strawberries, some with the addition of sugar, set against a white marble background, showcasing the beginning stages of preserve making.
  • Wipe jar rims and apply lids. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean cloth, place the lids on the jars, and screw the bands down until fingertip-tight.
    A top view of open jars filled with strawberry preserves, one being de-bubbled with a green tool, and the rest sealed with lids, ready for processing.
  • Process in a water bath. Place the jars in the canning pot and cover them with water. Boil for 10 minutes.
    A top-down image of jars in a water bath canning pot, some submerged in water, illustrating the process of sealing and sterilizing the preserves.
  • Cool and check seals. Remove jars from water and let cool for 24 hours. Check the seals before storing.
    An image showing a jar of strawberry preserves being lifted with blue jar tongs, with a focus on the securely sealed lid and the clear, rich color seen through the glass.

Notes

Use ripe, but firm strawberries for the best flavor and consistency.
Be sure to measure ingredients accurately for safe canning.
Always use a non-reactive pot (like stainless steel or enameled cast iron) to prevent the fruit from reacting with the metal.
 

Beginner canners will love this recipe, but so will experienced canners. The larger pieces of fruit in this recipe are so good with biscuits, English muffins, or anything else.

A close-up of a hand holding a biscuit topped with a generous amount of strawberry preserves, emphasizing the chunky texture of the fruit spread.

Remember

  • Safety first. Never can when you are in a hurry or stressed, you can’t take shortcuts.
  • Help is available. If you have a question/ get stuck, contact your ag extension.
  • Fresh ingredients. The better your berries, the better your preserves will be
  • No substitutions. The ingredients are not just for flavor, they help to preserve.

Important Tools and Ingredients

  • Crushed Strawberries. You can find these stars of the show in the fresh produce section of the grocery store. Their natural sweetness and flavor are crucial for authentic strawberry preserves.
  • Powdered Pectin. Located in the baking aisle, powdered pectin is a gelling agent that helps the preserves set .
  • Lemon Juice. Lemon juice is available in the produce or condiments section. It adds a necessary acidic balance to the sweetness of the strawberries. It also aids in setting the preserves.
  • Granulated Sugar. Sugar, found in the baking aisle, not only sweetens the preserves. It also works with pectin to achieve the desired texture.
  • Canning Jars. Canning jars are essential for storing preserves. They ensure an airtight seal for long-term storage. You can usually find them in the home goods or kitchenware section.

With these key ingredients, you’re well on your way to capturing the essence of summer in a jar.

A bowl filled with fresh strawberries next to small bowls of lemon juice and powdered pectin, displaying the initial ingredients for making strawberry preserves.

All you need are the usual canning supplies.

  • Large Pot for Waterbath Canning. To ensure safe storage, we must process the jars by sealing and sterilizing them.
  • Canning Jars with Lids and Bands. These are crucial for storing the preserves. Ensure that you sterilize and seal them for long-lasting freshness.
  • Jar Lifter or Tongs. These tools are necessary for handling the hot jars during the canning process.
  • Canning Funnel. A canning funnel helps transfer preserves into jars and minimizes spills and waste.
  • Ladle. You need to scoop and pour the preserves into jars. This ensures even and clean distribution.
  • Clean Cloths. Used for wiping the rims of the jars before sealing, which is essential for a good seal.
  • Non-Reactive Pot. Use a stainless steel or enameled cast iron pot. This prevents the fruit from reacting with the metal. That reaction could alter the flavor and color of the preserves.
A collection of canning tools laid out on a marble surface, including a water bath canner, jar lifter, ladle, funnel, and empty jars, ready for the canning process.

There are workarounds for a lot of these tools, but they are very helpful and you will use them over and over.

Tips for the Best Preserves

  • Test the Gel Consistency. Before canning, test the consistency of your preserves by placing a small amount on a cold plate. If it gels to your liking, it’s ready. This helps avoid over or undercooking the mixture.
  • Altitude Adjustments. Remember to adjust processing times based on your altitude. It affects the boiling point and canning process.
  • Sterilize Everything. Make sure you sterilize all your tools, especially jars and lids. This prevents contamination and extends the shelf life of your preserves.
  • Use a Bubble Remover. After filling the jars, run a non-metallic tool around the inside to remove air bubbles. This improves the texture and prevents potential spoilage.
  • Check Sugar Levels. If your strawberries are very sweet, you may want to use less sugar to balance the flavors.
  • Keep a Consistent Boil. Maintaining a steady, gentle boil when processing jars in the water bath. Fluctuations in temperature can affect the sealing process.
  • Check for Seal. After cooling, press the center of each lid. If it pops back, it is not sealed and you should refrigerate it and use it first.
  • Label Your Jars:.Always label your jars with the date of canning. This helps you keep track of their shelf life and enjoy them at their best.
  • Store in a Cool, Dark Place. Store away from light and heat helps preserve the flavor and quality of your preserves.
  • Be Patient. The flavor of preserves deepens and improves over time. If you can, wait a few weeks before enjoying them to experience the full depth of flavors.

🥫 Storage and make ahead instructions

You don’t have to can this recipe if you don’t want to! It can also be frozen or refrigerated and eaten quickly.

Multiple jars of strawberry preserves organized neatly on a white surface, accompanied by whole and halved strawberries, showcasing the rich red color of the preserves.

Pantry Storage:

  • Once sealed and cooled, store the jars in a cool, dark place like a pantry or a cupboard.
  • Avoid places with direct sunlight or heat, as this can affect the quality of the preserves.
  • Properly canned and sealed preserves can last up to a year in the pantry.

Refrigeration

  • After opening a jar, always store it in the refrigerator.
  • Use refrigerated preserves within 1 month for best taste and safety.

Freezing Instructions

  • While canning is ideal for long-term storage, you can freeze preserves if needed.
  • To freeze, first leave enough headspace at the top of the jar to allow for expansion (about 1/2 inch).
  • Ensure the preserves are completely cooled before freezing.
  • Frozen strawberry preserves can last up to 6 months.
  • Thaw in the refrigerator overnight when ready to use.
  • Remember, always check your preserves before using them. If you notice any signs of spoilage (like mold, off-smells, or color changes), it’s best to discard them.

Can I use frozen strawberries instead of fresh for this recipe?

Yes, you can use frozen strawberries. Make sure to thaw them completely and drain any excess liquid before crushing. Keep in mind that fresh strawberries might provide a fresher and more vibrant flavor.

What if I don’t have powdered pectin? Can I make preserves without it?

While pectin helps in setting the preserves, you can make them without it. The texture might be runnier. You can cook the fruit longer to achieve a thicker consistency. Be cautious not to overcook and caramelize the sugars.

Can I reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe?

Sugar is important for preservation and consistency. Reducing it can affect both the taste and the shelf life of the preserves. If you prefer less sweetness, try using strawberries that are less ripe as they will be less sweet.

How do I know if my preserves have set?

You can do a gel test by placing a small amount on a chilled plate. If it wrinkles when pushed with a finger, it’s set. Also, after cooling, you should thicken the preserves and ensure they are not runny.

Can I double the recipe?

Formulators create canning recipes to ensure safety. Doubling might affect the cooking and setting time, leading to safety issues. It’s best to make batches.

How long do I need to wait before I can open a jar?

You can open a jar once it’s cooled and sealed. Some people feel that waiting a few weeks allows the flavors to deepen and meld.

More ways to preserve strawberries

When it’s berry season, you can’t have enough strawberry recipes. Here are some of our favorites.

Making your own strawberry preserves is a delightful and rewarding process. It not only preserves the bounty of summer but also adds a beautiful and personal touch to your pantry. So, grab some strawberries and embark on this sweet journey.

Classic Strawberry Preserves
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