Our strawberry plants have gone wild. We didn’t even plant them; they were here when we moved in. Over the last week conditions have been just right to provide about 2-3 cups of fresh berries every couple days. I love strawberries, favourite berry hands down. I like them all but blackberries, raspberries too seedy, and blueberries, well they are OK. I think my son is on my side too. He loves running out to the patch to pick and eat, although he had not yet mastered the difference between ripe and not ripe. He doesn’t seem to mind the green ones though.
Strawberries out of the garden are a whole different animal then the imported variety from the grocery store. So sweet, tender and real tasting. The berries and the growing season don’t last long so I wanted a way to enjoy them just a little longer. I found this recipe for Strawberry Conserve, sounded just right to me. Conserves are sort of like a whole fruit jam, in this case whole fruit in a light syrup. The lemon rind provides pectin to help naturally thicken the juices, as strawberries are low in pectin.
4 cups fresh strawberries (about 1 pound), halved
1/2 cup super fine sugar
Peel (with white pith) of 1/2 lemon
Combine all ingredients in a heavy, wide pot. Cover; let sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours. The berries will ooze and sugar will dissolve.
Bring strawberry mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring gently, until strawberries are just tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer strawberries to 1 pint jar. Continue simmering liquid until it thickens into a syrupy consistency, 3-4 minutes. Discard lemon peel and pour syrup over strawberries; seal and let cool to room temperature. Chill for up to 1 month (Adapted from Epicurious).
I used less sugar then the called for 2/3 of a cup, I thought the result was the perfect sweetness. I also simmered the liquid a little longer as it wasn’t that thick after the 1-2 minutes the recipe suggested.
The fragrance and colour alone was enough to get real excited over. The taste? Perfect, garden fresh strawberries at a whole other level. Now what to do with Strawberry Conserve (or in the words of my husband; I am confused about what this is)? Well it would make a great topping for Greek yogurt, vanilla ice cream, angel food cake, pancakes, waffles or oatmeal. I also think it would be amazing on a nice slice of multigrain baguette with some goat cheese (I am actually drooling thinking about this). Endless possibilities. I might just drink it, ha.
If you can get your hands on some fresh BC grown strawberries or if your plants are going wild, get on it. Save some of the goodness for a little longer, although I am not too sure this is going to last long. Maybe you have someone around that would enjoy the spoon like someone I know.
Tiffany McFadden, RD