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From pennies to lbs: making strawberry conserve

I posted on Facebook last week that I bought a load of strawberries which were being sold for pennies and I would show you the result of four days work when the berries became transformed into a strawberry conserve.

From this ......

To this!!

So to the process used to transform raw berries into a strawberry conserve which keeps the berries whole.

Firstly the strawberries need to be hulled and then covered in sugar in layers in a large bowl. I used 3lb of strawberries and 3lb of sugar. The layers looked like this...

Cover the bowl with cling film and leave for 24 hours. It then looks like this...

The berries now go back into a preserving pan; make sure you get all the sugar which will have dropped to the bottom of the bowl. The bowl will be very heavy so you may need some extra muscle on hand as this can be a two-person job!

The contents now need to be warmed slowly to let the sugar dissolve and then a rapid boil for 5 minutes. Be very careful at this stage as the sugar is quite volatile and rises rapidly, often threatening to boil over - don't take your eye of it for a second and make sure you can turn down the heat immediately you think the conserve is rising too fast. Do not allow the contents to boil over.

Leave the contents to cool before pouring back into a clean bowl, cover and leave for two days

The final stage!! Before you start making the conserve, have your clean jars in the oven on a low heat to keep them sterilised. Pour the contents into a preserving pan and bring slowly to a boil.

As before do not take your eyes off the pan or leave it unattended. You need to be able to turn down the heat to ensure the contents do not boil over.

As you can see from the photos above, the contents of the pan, when boiling, rises from the 3 pint level to 11 pints.

I manage the heat to ensure it does not rise above 11 pints and the rapid boil needs to continue for 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and carefully remove the froth which covers the berries. Leave in the pan for 15 minutes before pouring carefully into jam jars.

Although this method does take four days and needs careful attention at the two heating stages, the result is that the strawberries stay whole. The strawberry conserve can be kept indefinitely. Good with scones and also with ice-cream!


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