Saturday, July 9, 2011

Strawberry Preserves

In talking about preserving, Marjorie leads up to her recipes by mentioning that preserving is considered part of our heritage here in Maine. She describes how it is not uncommon to walk into the average household and find everything you would need to whip up a batch of raspberry jelly. In particular Marjorie says of the Maine housewife,

"Chances are she has a few special recipes like the ones in this chapter. In many instances they are recipes handed down from one generation to another." 

I love this! I love looking at and cooking recipes that have been in my family for generations. There is something comforting about them. Even if you don't know their exact origin, you know that someone you are related to once cooked this for a member of your family.

Initially I had decided not to do any canning or preserving. It just seemed too complicated and especially hard to do in between customers, and there are a lot of recipes too! So I was going to skip over this section. However, some of our wonderful customers who come in to the cafe every day convinced me that I should do at least one recipe. They even said they would help me!

So, yesterday after work I went over to their house with all my ingredients and materials, and we got to work on our preserving! The biggest dilemma was which recipe to make. Since it is July, my thought was to make the Strawberry Preserve recipe. I was also prompted to make the strawberry preserves first as Marjorie says this of the recipe,

"Fresh strawberry preserve comes first, for it was the first recipe of this sort I ever used in Cooking Down East." 

The process was much easier and much more enjoyable than I had expected it to be!

 First you wash out all of the jars and lids. 

A photo of the prepped ingredients and the lids. The jars and lids eventually went into 
the boiling water to be sterilized for about 5 minutes while we prepared the preserves. 

First pint of sugar and one cup of water brought to a boil for 15 minutes. 

After the first 15 minutes went by, we added the first pint of strawberries and 
allowed it to boil for another 15 minutes. 

This process of adding one pint of sugar and one pint of strawberries was repeated 
two more times. It created a very sticky mixture but a wonderful aroma. 

Above is an image of the sticky spoons! 

The liquid in the pot kept growing and growing! 

We were slightly afraid it was going to boil over after adding the third
batch. Thankfully it didn't! 

After turning off the heat, we skimmed off the foam....

Leaving a clean delicious strawberry preserve. 
Ready to be canned! 

All the jars in the boiling water. Just pull them out and fill with the preserves. 

Pop them back in the boiling water for 5 minutes. When you pull them out,
you have your very own delicious homemade preserves. 

The tops of the jars will pop, letting you know they have sealed. 
The preserve now has to sit for 24 hours to set up. 

Everything went very smoothly, and it was actually a lot of fun! It was also not as intimidating as I had expected. I am still crossing my fingers that the jam will set and that all went well. It looks delicious, and it smelled fantastic while we were making it. And, as of this morning, all signs were looking good!

If you would like to purchase a jar of Strawberry Preserves come in to the Blue Elephant Cafe this week!

Blue Elephant Cafe
12 Pepperell Square 
Saco, Maine 04072

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