I grew up with a ton of fruit trees in my backyard. As a little kid, with a full summer off school and not a care in the world, life was pretty wonderful. Besides the few summer camps that I would attend, my siblings and I had so much fun playing in the backyard in our free time.
With the pool, tennis court and lots of open space in which to bike around, we would literally play out in the backyard from dawn until dusk, or sometimes even after dusk if we were allowed to turn on the tennis court lights. And by “dawn” I really mean late morning; I’ve never been a morning person.
Most of the time we wouldn’t even come in for a real lunch. We would be snacking on all of the plums, peaches, and apricots, falling from the backyard trees; we were rarely hungry for a midday meal. But when we were hungry for something more substantial, I can promise you that a tasty little PB & J was prepared for us. The ‘J’ was always our favorite kind of jam–homemade plum jam–that my Momma would make from the loads of plums that dropped from the trees out back.
At one point we placed our hammock under the tree, because the critters would get to them on the ground, before we could turn them to jam.
Although it was quite a process, my Mom made dozens of jars filled with plum jam, and she made it looks so easy. After she gifted tons of jars to family and friends, we would somehow still have enough to last us throughout the year until the next batch of summer plums ripened. Our pantry was like the never-ending jam stockpile.
At one point, when a telemarketer called our house during dinner time, we almost sold them a jar.There was a lesson to be learned there: don’t call the house during dinnertime; we won’t buy into your sales schemes and might just give you a taste of your own medicine.
Although this recipe isn’t for plum jam, any time I jar preserves, I always think of helping during the canning of the summer plum jam. It was always so much work but had such a lasting pay-off. Which means we would all be eating the best PB & J’s for the proceeding school year.
Well, now with this Tangy Strawberry Preserves recipe, you will be able to whip up that batch of jam that will make the world’s best PB & J’s! Since this recipe does not have pectin in it, the result won’t be as jelly-like, however they will be just as tasty and can also be used as a topping on various desserts, or pancakes and waffles, or stirred into plain Greek yogurt.
That’s a multifunctional jar of goodies, right there.
Seriously, when you see how easy this is to prepare, you will want to skip the store-bought kind and go straight to the stove to make your own.
Chop the strawberries, leaving about a quarter of them in larger pieces.
Add the strawberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar to a large saucepan, and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium, cover and let reduce for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
By this time the mixture will have thickened and the strawberries will have broken down. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let cool before transferring to a jar or another airtight container. You can keep these preserves refrigerated and store for up to 12 days. They take about a day in the fridge, so fully “set”.
Enjoy on toast, on your favorite sandwich or on ice cream!
Tangy Strawberry Preserves
Makes about 2 cups
1 pound of strawberries,diced (leave able 1/4 of the strawberries in larger pieces)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
In a large saucepan, mix strawberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and let reduce for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. By this time the mixture will have thickened considerably. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let cool to room temperature, before storing in an airtight container. Keep refrigerated and store for up to 12 days.