I’m so excited to kick off my “Junk Food Remade” series with strawberry preserves. What? That’s not that bad, is it? I chose this because a PB&J sandwich is one of the most popular, if not THE most popular thing a kid will be served in his childhood. Some kids actually eat it every day! This is food that has SO much room to improve for a lot of people out there. Don’t get me wrong, you can buy great preserves and jams at the store with the same ingredients I’ll show you to use, but for a LOT more money.
Check it out…
Crazy, right? Did you know that there was not only high fructose corn syrup but corn syrup and then sugar as well. No matter where you stand on the HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) debate, 3 sources of sugar in one product need not enter a child’s body. So, we can solve this problem very easily by making it ourselves and controlling exactly how much sugar is in it. Don’t worry, I’ll show you how :)
Start with some ridiculously awesome smelling strawberries from your local organic market.
California residents have one more reason to buy organic because we had a new law go into effect this year that allowed for the use of methyl iodide, a state-listed CARCINOGEN. Yes, that’s right….carcinogen. They apparently aren’t shown to cause TOO many problems (at least not documented in the papers that hang out on the desks of Cal-Strawberry), so are used on the soil to kill everything before the innocent strawberry plants are put in. This seems to be a replacement for Methyl Bromide, recently banned. I’ve signed petitions against both of these products and I think some of us are still confused as to how it came to be approved. Makes you feel so warm and fuzzy inside knowing that people care for you so much, right?
If you leave in an area that doesn’t grow organic strawberries, you can also call the other local farms and inquire about their farming techniques. I used to do this before organic farms were really common and popular. Many farms don’t have an organic certification but may practice the same principles of an organic farmer, without having gone through the certification. In my experience, organic strawberries from the grocery store are usually from large farms and are pretty tasteless (read taste like water and have so few vitamins and flavor it seems pointless to eat them), comparatively speaking.
Back to the lovely strawberries…
The whole strawberries have an overnight refrigerator rest in the sugar, before preserves are made the following day.
Day 2: Cook the strawberries until they reach a simmer, and continue for 5 minutes. Try to keep the strawberries as whole as possible.
Strain and reserve the liquid for the next step.
Add the lemon juice and continue cooking the reserved liquid on medium heat until it is reduced to 1/2 the amount.
Sterilize your jars for 10 minutes.
Put some boiling water in a saucepan and add your lids and rings until needed. I’ve stuck mine in the pot as well and never had any problems with the glue melting, but this is the way most books show you to sterilize them. You choose, but I would start this way first.
Fill, leaving a 1/4 head-space and process for 5 minutes.
To make a different kind of PB&J, try using almond butter. You can find it at most stores now and it is PACKED with helpful nutrients like protein, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. You could also just blend up some nuts right on the spot :). The other reason I prefer almond butter is that so many people are allergic to peanuts now…REALLY allergic. Most people (myself included at one point) think they are both a type of nut but peanuts are technically beans (legumes), while almonds are true nuts that grow in trees. Cool, huh?
Try it and let me know how you like it.
6 pounds strawberries, cleaned and hulled
2 cups organic sugar ( you can use less)
6 T lemon juice, fresh