I have a two year old. As much as I strive to feed him from every food group and in all manners of cuisines, allowing him and encouraging him to eat things that most two year olds don’t eat, lunch comes around every day. And often, he gets a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
But not just your run of the mill PBJ. It is an as nourishing as you can get PBJ. Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread. Fresh Ground Organic Peanut Butter with one ingredient. And an All Fruit Preserve. I’ve been seeking out the all fruit preserves, sweetened with fruit juice and sans HFCS for the little guy, and he loves them! Unfortunately, however, those little bitty jars of preserve go fast. And boy are they expensive!
So what did I do? I decided to make my own. And those expensive store-bought preserves? They don’t even compare.
Honey Sweetened Strawberry Preserves
makes 6 to 8 half-pints of preserves
- 4 cups of prepared fruit (I started with roughly 8 cups of sliced fruit and smashed it down with a potato masher for two to three minutes until I got 4 cups)
- 1 cup of 100% juice (I used Kiwi Strawberry but white grape or apple also work well)
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1 package of “No Sugar Needed” Fruit Pectin (I used the Ball brand but there are several out there*)
Prior to cooking, prepare for making preserves, by sanitizing your jars, rings and equipment (ladle and funnel, specifically) – I just used my sanitizing option on my dishwasher. Also place your lids in a pot of simmering water – make sure that it does not boil as this will affect it’s sealing properties. I used the advice on this site.
In a large saucepan, combine juice and fruit and, over medium heat, stir in pectin until combined. Heat to a boil, stirring frequently. Once at a boil, add honey and bring back up to a rolling, hard boil. Boil for three minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and skim foam from the top with a large spoon onto a waiting plate. Ladle into prepared jars, sitting on a dish towel (that you don’t mind staining. You will drip.). Place lid on immediately and press around the edge with your fingers. Place ring on and tighten until fingertip tight (it’s on securely, but not tightened REALLY tight).
Now, some people recommend cooking them further in a waterbath. You can if you want. But, I don’t have a canning pot or pot large enough to do this kind of waterbath (yet) and so I instead did what my mom, and my aunts and my grandma have always done when making fruit jam. . . .
I immediately inverted the sealed, ringed jars on the towel (you’ll want a hot pad to do this. The jars are hot!) I continued to fill and invert the jars until they were all full. At that time I set a timer for five minutes and, when it dinged, I turned the jars back over upright and set them on the towel.
Pretty soon you’ll start hearing a “pop” sound every once in a while as the lids seal themselves from the heat of the contents. Don’t disturb the jars for 12 to 24 hours. After that time, check the seals and, if any haven’t sealed, simply put it in your fridge to enjoy first!
I made one batch of this with strawberries (the jar on the right, above), and one batch with a mixture of 3 cups fresh strawberries and 1 cup frozen blueberries (the jar on the left!). The honey flavor is light, the fruit flavor is strong and it is lightly sweetened. Perfect with an English muffin for breakfast . . . yum!
Oh, and by the way, using local, fresh strawberries and local, raw honey, these averaged out to $1.25/half-pint, not including the cost of the jars (which we did buy new and will recycle for next year’s batch!) and $2.05/half-pint with the cost of the jars included. This is at least half the cost of the jarred variety in the store! One nap time’s worth of work (I made two batches of this recipe and one batch of freezer jam) and I have a year’s worth of better-quality preserves for half the price!
*Check your pectin insert directions to see if there are any cooking time changes for best results.