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Strawberry Vanilla Preserves (Small Batch, Low Sugar)

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Strawberry vanilla preserves are a yummy twist on homemade strawberry jam, perfect for showcasing small, sweet berries. It's wonderful on ice cream or cheesecake, or drizzled over biscuits.

Strawberry Vanilla Preserves

We'll share the recipe for the preserves and answer some common questions for jam and jelly making.

Dunc has a small patch of everbearing strawberries for fresh eating. For preserving, we go strawberry picking at local U-pick farms.

Here in Wisconsin, our pest pressure is lower, so growers don't need to use tons of pesticides. If possible, ask your grower if they spray, as strawberries are always on the Dirty Dozen list of produce.

Strawberry Vanilla Preserves

The addition of vanilla to fresh strawberries creates a delicate yet delicious difference. Since we're using Pomona's Pectin, we can cut the sugar and keep more fresh berry flavor.

This recipe is adapted from Preserving with Pomona's Pectin. It's okay to double the recipe or cut it in half for a smaller batch.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon calcium water (included in Pomona's Pectin package)
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Pomona's Pectin powder

Directions

Prepare jars, lids and bands; heat up canner and sterilize jars. If needed, mix up calcium water.

Rinse strawberries and remove stems. Combine strawberries and 1/2 cup water in a large sauce pan.

Use a paring knife to slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and pod to the strawberries.

strawberries with vanilla bean

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir gently to keep the berries whole.

Add calcium water and mix well. Bring strawberry mixture back to a fill boil over medium high heat. While the mixture is heating, mix pectin and sugar in a separate bowl.

Once the strawberry mixture has reached a full boil, slowly add the pectin-sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin while the preserves come back up to a boil.

Once the strawberry vanilla preserves return to a full boil, remove the pan from the heat. Using tongs, carefully remove the vanilla bean from the preserves and discard.

jars filled with preserves

To can the preserves, ladle preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rims with a damp cloth and screw on lids finger tight.

Lower jars into boiling water canner. Jars should not touch, and should be covered with at least 1-2 inches of water. Place lid on canner and return to rolling boil.

Process jars for 10 minutes (adjust for altitude if necessary). Turn off canner and move jars to towel on counter top. Let jars rest until completely cooled. (I usually let them sit overnight.)

Check seals, remove rings, date and label. Store out of direct sunlight and use within 18 months for best quality.

What is calcium water?

Calcium water is made from calcium powder included in every box of Pomona's Pectin. You mix 1/2 teaspoon powder with 1/2 cup water and store in a clear jar in the refrigerator between uses.

One batch of calcium water is enough to make several batches of jam or jelly. It allows you to make a wide variety of low or no sugar preserves.

Each box of Pomona's Pectin makes several batches of preserves. Plus, unlike full sugar pectin, it's okay if you double a recipe. With less sugar, the jam sets up faster, so you don't risk rubbery jam.

Do I need to add lemon juice?

For safe water bath canning, foods need to have a pH of 4.6 or lower. Strawberries have a pH between 3 and 3.5, so we don't need to add lemon juice.

How do you make strawberry jam or preserves thicker?

These strawberry vanilla preserves feature whole berries in a loose spread. If you prefer a thicker spread, you can add extra calcium water and pectin powder.

This is one of the things I love about working with Pomona's Pectin. You decide how thick or thin you prefer your spread.

Another issue some people run into is runny or watery jam. This could be from your sugar.

Cane sugar behaves differently than beet sugar in cooking. Sometimes beet sugar will yield jam that “weeps” (gives off liquid).

If watery jam is a problem, try a different sugar. Note that unless otherwise labeled, most sugar in the United States is beet sugar.

Can I make strawberry vanilla preserves without canning?

How fast can you eat your preserves?

It's fine to pack the preserves in jars and store them in the refrigerator without canning. Just make sure you use them up within a few weeks.

If you don't can your preserves, they won't be shelf stable for longer storage. You may freeze the preserves instead, but they may separate slightly when thawed.

What's the difference between strawberry preserves, strawberry jam, jelly and spreads?

It's all about the fruit. All three are sweetened fruit products, but each is handled a little differently.

Preserves have whole berries or larger chunks of fruit, cooked in a thickened syrup.

Jam recipes use chopped or crushed fruit, cooked, sweetened and thickened into a spread. If you want to turn this recipe in a strawberry vanilla jam, chop or mash the fruit before cooking.

Jelly starts with fruit juice and is chunk free. Most jellies are clear, though some may be a bit cloudy with fine pulp. Juice turns into jelly via heat, sugar, added pectin or the natural pectin in the fruit.

Fruit spreads are 100% fruit, sweetened with just the fruit or added fruit juice concentrate.

For our strawberry vanilla preserves, choose smaller berries, or cut larger berries in half. Remember, your berries will shrink a little with cooking.

Preserves are perfect for small fruited alpine strawberries, or late season berries, which tend to be smaller and sweeter. If you're lucky enough to have an abundance of wild strawberries, those will work, too.

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Strawberry Vanilla Preserves

Strawberry vanilla preserves are yummy twist on homemade strawberry jam, perfect for showcasing small, sweet berries with a delicate dash of vanilla.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 56 cups 1x
  • Category: Preserve

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon calcium water (included in Pomona's Pectin package)
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Pomona's Pectin powder

Instructions

  1. Prepare jars, lids and bands; heat up canner and sterilize jars. If needed, mix up calcium water.
  2. Rinse strawberries and remove stems. Combine strawberries and 1/2 cup water in a large sauce pan.
  3. Use a paring knife to slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and pod to the strawberries. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir gently to keep the berries whole.
  4. Add calcium water and mix well. Bring strawberry mixture back to a fill boil over medium high heat. While the mixture is heating, mix pectin and sugar in a separate bowl.
  5. Once the strawberry mixture has reached a full boil, slowly add the pectin-sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin while the preserves come back up to a boil.
  6. Once the strawberry vanilla preserves return to a full boil, remove the pan from the heat. Using tongs, carefully remove the vanilla bean from the preserves and discard.
  7. To can the preserves, ladle preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rims with a damp cloth and screw on lids finger tight.
  8. Lower jars into boiling water canner. Jars should not touch, and should be covered with at least 1-2 inches of water. Place lid on canner and return to rolling boil.
  9. Process jars for 10 minutes (adjust for altitude if necessary). Turn off canner and move jars to towel on counter top. Let jars rest until completely cooled. (I usually let them sit overnight.)
  10. Check seals, remove rings, date and label. Store out of direct sunlight and use within 18 months for best quality.

Notes

Calcium water is made from calcium powder included in every box of Pomona's Pectin. You mix 1/2 teaspoon powder with 1/2 cup water and store in a clear jar in the refrigerator between uses.

Keywords: preserves, strawberries, jam, food storage, home canning

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Strawberry Vanilla Preserves

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