If there is one thing I always think of when the month of June comes to mind, it’s strawberries. As a child, we always went strawberry picking for one of my younger brother’s birthdays which falls in June, and I remember we would pick berries boys vs. girl style to see who could fill their basket with the most berries. June is simply Strawberry Month to me, and probably always will be.
So it’s no surprise, between my lifestyle and interests, and the life long June-strawberry picking, that my husband and I would continue the tradition and take our daughter strawberry picking. Since our own berry plants aren’t producing more than a handful of berries at a time, we headed over to a local farm, and picked just shy of 30-lbs worth of strawberries! If you have never picked fresh fruit yourself, you are missing out! The produce offered to you in the grocery store will never compare to a fresh fruit that has been allowed to mature the right way: still on the plant. These strawberries were bursting with juice, and had a sweet, rich flavor that compares to no other strawberry.
We headed home with our berries, and into the kitchen. While many of the berries were eaten fresh, we did put up (4) pint jars of whole strawberries in syrup, and (5) pints of strawberry preserves. The recipe I am sharing today is for the whole strawberries. These were easy to do, and came out so delicious! They would make an excellent pie or tart filling, or ladled over fresh ice cream.
The trick, I learned, is to allow the berries to sit in contact with the sugar overnight. The strawberries absorb the sugar and plump up, allowing them to hold their shape a little better through processing. It’s an extra step that takes awhile (although, no extra effort!), but it’s absolutely worth it.
This recipe is adapted from the recipe in Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissof, one of my favorite canning resources.
Whole Strawberries in Syrup
Yields: 4-pint jars
6-lbs. fresh strawberries, stems removed and hulled
3-cups white sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Zest from one lemon
- Prepare strawberries. In a large bowl, layer strawberries and sugar. Handle strawberries gently to avoid extra mashing or bruising.
- Cover, and place strawberries in the refrigerator overnight.
- In the morning, you will find that the strawberries will have absorbed a good portion of the sugar, and released a lot of juices as well. Add everything – sugar, strawberries and juice – to a large, non-reactive pot on the stove.
- Bring mixture up to a simmer, and cook for 5-7 minutes. The berries will be warmed through and starting to soften. Drain strawberries into a bowl, and return juice to the pot. Reduce the juice down until there is only about 3-cups left, and it has thickened into a light syrup, about 25-30 minutes.
- Add the strawberries back in, and add the lemon juice and zest. Cook for another 15-20 minutes or until the berries are shiny and tender.
- Ladle into jars, and process in a water bath for 5 minutes.