Canning Strawberry Preserves with Tattler’s Reusable BPA-Free Mason Jar Lids

We went strawberries picking last weekend at one of our favorite “Ecological Pick Your Fruit” farms, Fishkill Farm. As you can tell from the little friend that tagged along home, these were organic, free of pesticides. We love this farm because they use minimal chemicals, if not, all organic. These strawberries were $4.99 a quart and some were not quite ready yet since it was still early in the season but there were enough ripen ones for us to bring home 2 quarts.

Oh, we also saw these cutie patooties that were born two weeks ago at the farm.

So how do we  enjoy them longer than the short strawberry season? Make them into preserves, of course.

Now, I have to admit, I’ve never made strawberry preserves nor have I ventured into the canning realm of homesteading life. Canning sounds just so tedious and messy. Every time I read someone describing the aftermath of a tomato or peach canning season, it just made me stay the hell away from it as far as possible. All that equipment. All that cleaning. No. Thank. You! I’ll just run down the tomato sauce aisle at the supermarket for my occasional needs, thank you very much.

And not to mention BPA in canning lids. That reason alone just about made good enough excuse NOT to learn to can.

Then, Tattler sent me two sets of Reusable BPA-free canning lids to try. Damn you Tattler! You just spoiled my laziness, I mean, intelligent reasons for not canning. Granted that they are made with #7 plastic, but they are reusable and BPA-Free! 

So with all these hand picked red organic strawberries, and the BPA-free canning lids staring at me, I had to try it. I’m a sucker, what can I tell ya? Besides, I was getting tired of paying oodles of money – $10 per 18 oz jar – for Sarabeth’s preserves – the only kind we like because it’s filled with pieces of whole strawberries and it’s not too sweet. But it’s not organic. Soooo~I got industrious one evening.

After warning, ok, screaming at the slimy guy – “You bettah not eat the greens in my garden or I’m coming after you! – I released him in my garden, with his strawberry.

I rinsed the rest of the berries with my fruit wash and I went to work.

Adventures of canning strawberry preserves

This is more like the “lessons I learned”  from my first experience of being the “Suzy homemaker”  of fruit preserves and the canning world, rather than a “recipe.”

First of all, do you know the difference between a jam, preserves, jelly, marmalade? I tend to interchange these terms at will without a specific reference to any particular one over the other but apparently, there are distinct differences among them. You can read about it here. So although I thought I made strawberry preserves, I might have made jam. But whatever. Preserves sounds more sophisticated so I’m calling it preserves. You can call it whatever you’d like.

Here we go.

Some tips before we start. Now, you know that I’m not an expert canner so you can Google “how to can” or go to Tattler‘s or Ball’s website and they’ll tell you their expert advice. These tips are what I observed from my own experience.

1. Make coffee before you start. Doesn’t add any more bright methodology to the preserves making but it’ll keep you on your toes during the process.  And when you are done with cooking the strawberries and sugar, whirl your coffee in the pot, and drink your coffee with strawberry syrup. You can’t let all that strawberry/sugar goodness that are stuck to the side of the pot go to waste!

2. Use pectin. You’ll need it. I didn’t think I’d need it – what do I know? – so at first, I just boiled some strawberries and added copious amount of sugar, thinking it’ll just jell from the sugar. Well, it didn’t jell and I had to run to Whole Foods and pick up a pack ($4.29). There goes my stubborn ways of thinking, “I don’t need to follow a recipe. I can do this my way.“. Yeah, not so much. It became like a liquified, thick, fruit compote than a preserves.

3. Add pectin before you boil. Pectin acts like gelatin or corn starch. It makes everything lumpy. So add pectin to cold water you’ll be using and and try to get the lumps out as much as you can. If there any lumps left over, they will melt once you start boiling your fruit. See the lumps I discovered after I added pectin to boiling fruit? Bad news.

4. You don’t need a fancy canning equipment. Yes, it will help you if you are going to be a canning-extraordinare and can every fruit and veggies you grow. But if  you are an occasional canner like me, you can just use a huge pot, some good tongs and oven mitts. Don’t let fancy equipment- or lack thereof – scare you from canning your farmer’s market bounty. And if you get addicted to canning – like I just might – then, you can invest in some great stainless steel canner like this set. Even if you don’t buy this set, make sure you buy a good quality set that is made with stainless steel, especially the rack. I heard it can rust easily and you’ll regret it buying a cheap set. Remember, you get what you pay for. 

5. Use reusable canning lids. Period. Canning lids are lined with BPA and especially when you boil them to sterilize, it’ll contaminate the jars and the rest of the equipment. So throw away the lids that come with mason jars and invest in these reusable ones. First you’ll reuse them so you’ll never have to buy another set. And they are BPA-free.

Strawberry Preserves

  • 4 C Organic Strawberries
  • 1 C Organic Sugar
  • 2 tsp pectin
  • 2 tsp of calcium water (comes with pectin package)
  • 1-2 C Cold Water
  • Large Pot, Tongs, 2 12oz Mason Jars with BPA-Free Reusable Canning Lids and rings.

Makes (2+) 12 oz jars of strawberry preserves.

Instruction

1. Mix calcium powder with cold water as per instruction and set aside.
2. Sterilize the jars and the rings in the pot in boiling water. Scald the plastic reusable lids and the rubber rings for a a couple of seconds and take them out. 3. Hull the strawberries. I normally don’t hull them when I eat them but in my preserves, I wanted to take out the hard part so I took a small paring knife and cut out the hard stem parts.

4. Add pectin to cold water and dissolve the powder. If there are little bits of lumps, that’s ok but more you try to dissolve when it’s cold, the better.

5. Add the strawberries, pectin, sugar, and water and boil until strawberries are soft. Lower the heat and simmer for about ten minutes. Mash the fruit a bit. I used mash potato masher and it worked great! See how syrupy and lumpy it is? When the fruit is soft and fall apart, it’s done!

Now you are ready to put it in the jar….not your mouth! But if you do, be careful. It’s HOT! I know.

5. While the jars are still bathing in the hot water, carefully ladle the preserves in the jar. Didn’t I do a great job of being neat? What is wrong with all those women who complained that they made a mess! It was a cinch to keep it neat!

Make sure you don’t top the jars. Leave some room, especially if  you are going to freeze them…..although I don’t recommend freezing preserves, I heard you can. After you fill them, wipe off the mouth of the jars and you are ready to put the lids on. I filled the two jars and put some in a glass container as my tester to check later to see if it’s jelled. If it’s not jelled, you have to repeat the process with a little more pectin. If it’s too hard, then, you can add more water and repeat.

6. To close, put the lid with the rubber rings on top carefully. Then, put the outer rings on while holding down the lid with the other hand but DON’T TIGHTEN them yet. Just close them snugly.

7. Leave the jars in the pot for a few minutes and pray that preserves jelled. Then, take them out and tighten the lids and let them cool on the counter. When they are completely cool, put them in the refrigerator to cool completely. When they are cooled, try to lift the lid. If’ canning worked, you can’t pop the lid easily.

Ta Dah! I made jam, I mean, preserves, or whatever. I canned!! Now I can can!!

Of course, if you are planning to eat them right away, like I just might, you don’t have to worry about canning them. But once you open the canning seal, it’s good for 3 months in the refrigerator.

And it wasn’t as painful as I thought! See all those whole fruit chunks?

And look how glorious it looks on my toast!

I know it might seem trivial but I am feeling all powerful right now. And white toast is one of those rare treats that I save for special occasions to go with very special toppings like homemade organic strawberry preserves.

I don’t know if I left out anything in this instruction but I was dying to show you how I canned and made strawberry preserves in one post so let me know if anything doesn’t make sense. I just need to make another toast for lunch. I think I’ll serve it with dinner tonight too.

*You can buy glass BPA Free canning jars and lids from Weck Jars too.

NOTE: The information in this post is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Dr. Karen disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. Opinions and statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. The information is for general consumer understanding and education, and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice and it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. I am not your doctor and you should consult with a qualified health care professional on any matter relating to their health and well being on one-on-one basis with thorough physical examination. Dr. Karen encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. Products Dr. Karen recommends and their properties have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using the products. For more info, visit the Disclaimer page.

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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks Kimberly!

    Yes, metal canning lids are just like the canned foods. Metal needs something to protect the food from and they use BPA for the lining. I liked the ones Tattler sent me but they are made with plastic so if I was to buy more canning jars and lids, I’d opt with Weck glass jars and lids.

    Someone just told me that a German company makes metal lids but I don’t think I’d buy them since they are not so local.

  2. Rachel says

    Hi Karen-YUM! Congrats on tackling canning. You will soon be addicted like me. I highly recommend a strawberry-vanilla bean combo (mascerate chopped strawberries with beans & seeds overnight-recipe from foodinjars blog). I stocked up on a bunch of Tattler lids for this canning season. Enjoy your jam!

  3. says

    I agree with adding the vanilla bean, it just amps it up a notch. I have a few lids to try out myself.

  4. says

    What a fun and informative post! I had no idea that canning lids had BPA in them. Thanks for the info. I’ll be looking into getting some of those lids and trying canning for myself. I’ve put it off for the same reasons….it seemed like so much work! But, your post made it look fun. And, I love the idea of making food that is organic, I know everything that’s in it, and it’s BPA free. I’m so tired of finding out more things BPA is in. I wish they would ban it all together! Enjoy your preserves! :-)

  5. says

    Oh Karen, you crack me up! Your posts are so filled with adventure! Your jam, excuse me, preserves looks faaaaabuuuuloous!

  6. says

    Rachel,

    Vanilla beans and strawberries sound heavenly! I’ll try that combo next time.

    You are right; I think I am going to be addicted to canning now that I’ve discovered how easy it is!

  7. says

    I know what you mean by being tired about BPA being in everything. Who would think that canning your own food would be dangerous your health? It’s nuts. But at least there are alternatives, even if it’s not the best…Tattler lids being plastic and all. But at least we’ll use them for a long time.

    You should definitely try canning. Start with easy ones, like preserves. Not too many ingredients and not too messy. It really was easy.

    And it’s really really delicious!

  8. says

    Ha ha…Thanks Kathy!

    My jam/preserves does taste awesome…and not because *I* made it but because it’s “homemade” with only 3 ingredients!