Summer’s officially over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to enjoy its bright delicious flavors in the coming months. With the beginning of fall, farmers often sell the bounty of their bumper crops at amazingly low prices. For example, I got an entire CASE (i.e., 6 pints) of strawberries for $5 at my local fruit market, and red raspberries were selling for just 53 cents per box the week before. Now that’s a deal if I ever saw one.
“What in the world are you going to do with all those strawberries?” my boyfriend Doug asked me. “Make jam, Doug. Duh!” I replied. And I wasn’t going to make just any old jelly. I wanted to make something really fantastic. This recipe for Strawberry-Lemon Marmalade caught my eye, and it was love at first sight. The delicate sweetness of strawberries paired with the bright fresh flavor of lemon seemed unbeatable and, boy, was I right.
I received a canning set for Christmas last year (thanks Ma!) and had yet to use it. I finally began my foray into canning a few weeks ago after my friend Jodie mentioned that she had made peach preserves. I made Red Raspberry Jam using the above-mentioned raspberries. While it was good, it didn’t have that wow factor I was looking for to sustain me all winter long. This Strawberry-Lemon Marmalade takes the cake, or so the proverbial saying goes.
You can pick up your own canning kit at most hardware stores, and you can purchase canning jars and pectin at many supermarkets as well as at the hardware store and online. Pectin is a thickening agent that naturally occurs in fruit, but you need to add some to your jam or jelly to get that thick consistency. There are two kinds of powdered pectin—one made from natural fruit pectin and one made with artificial thickeners. I only went with the natural fruit pectin because it was the only option available, but it worked just fine. If you’re looking for a cooking adventure, or just a way to make summer last all year long—at least in your pantry—than canning could be just what you’re looking for. Happy canning!
This recipe, adapted from Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving, yields about 7 half-pint jars. When you open your jars for consumption, you might want to give them a good stir if all the fruit has settled at the top. Click here for a print copy of this recipe.
¼ c. thinly sliced lemon peel from about 2 lemons (directions below)
4 c. crushed strawberries (about 3 quarts)*
1 package powdered pectin
1 Tbs. lemon juice
6 c. sugar
*Crush strawberries with a potato masher or fork instead of a food processor to avoid over-processing.
Prepare jars. Visually examine jars and caps for nicks, cracks, uneven rims, or sharp edges that may prevent sealing or cause breakage. Thoroughly wash jars and two-piece caps with hot soapy water. Fill a boiling-water canner three-quarters full with water and bring to a simmer. Simmer clean jars and lids in water bath for 10 minutes. Jars can be left in simmering water until ready to use.
Peel and boil lemons. Using a vegetable peeler, peel lemons. Cut lemon peel into long, thin strips, called julienne. Halve the julienned lemon peel if smaller pieces are desired. Cover lemon peel with water; boil 5 minutes. Drain.
Make marmalade. Combine lemon peel, strawberries, powdered pectin, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Bring slowly to a boil. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary.
Can and process marmalade. Removing the jars from the boiling water canner one at a time, ladle the hot marmalade into the hot jars, leaving ¼-in. headspace. Wipe rim with a clean, damp rag and adjust two-piece caps. Repeat with remaining jars. Return filled jars to boiling-water canner, making sure water covers jars by 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil and process for 10 minutes. When processing time is complete, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let canner cool 5 minutes before removing jars. Remove jars from canner and set them upright, 1 to 2 inches apart, on a dry towel or wire rack to cool. Do not retighten bands. Let jars cool 12 to 24 hours before checking for a seal.
Test the seals. Press down on the center of the lid to determine if it is concave; the remove the band and gently try to lift the lid off with your fingers. If the center does not flex up and down and you cannot life the lid off, the lid has a good vacuum seal.
*If a lid does not seal within 24 hours, you can immediately reprocess by reheating the product and packing it into a clean hot jars. OR you can simply refrigerate the product instead of reprocessing. I do this for half-filled jars that are leftover when I can jam and jellies.