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Make a small batch of easy, lemony strawberry preserves

Recipe: Sunny strawberry-Meyer lemon preserves without added pectin

Strawberries macerate in sugar before they are quickly cooked into a small batch of lemony-sweet preserves.

Strawberries macerate in sugar before they are quickly cooked into a small batch of lemony-sweet preserves.

Debbie Arrington

Dab of preserves on a plate
Meyer lemon adds a sunny note to the berries.

Sometimes I have the urge to make jam but not too much – especially if I have limited fruit. These easy preserves take only 1 pound of strawberries, 2 cups of sugar and one Meyer lemon – no added pectin necessary.

Compared to jam, preserves have larger pieces of fruit – even whole small berries. Larger strawberries are quartered or sliced.

This recipe does take a little advance planning. To bring out their juice, the strawberries need to sit in the sugar for six hours (or overnight). This process helps the berries retain their bright red color.

Added just before cooking, the Meyer lemon juice and zest add a bright, sunny note to the berries.

The result is soft and spreadable. Keep the finished preserves in the refrigerator.

Sunny strawberry-Meyer lemon preserves

Makes about 1 pint (2 cups)


1 pound strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered (about 2 cups)

2 cups sugar

Zest of 1 Meyer lemon

2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice


In a large stainless steel or non-reactive bowl, mix strawberries with sugar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours (or overnight), stirring occasionally.

Strawberries boiling in a pot
Bring the berries to a boil, then simmer.

Transfer berries, sugar and syrupy juice to a large heavy pot. (It needs room to bubble.) Add lemon zest and juice.

Over high heat, bring strawberry mixture to a boil, stirring often so it doesn’t stick or burn. Let boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and let preserves simmer, stirring often, until desired consistency (about 10 to 15 minutes).

Remove from heat and transfer to a sterilized jar or other container. Cover and store in the refrigerator. May be frozen up to 6 months.

When is jam (or jelly or preserves) ready? To test consistency, freeze a small plate in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. Spoon a ½ teaspoon of preserves onto cold plate and return it to freezer. Check in 2 minutes. If the jam/jelly/preserves doesn’t run when the plate is turned sideways, it’s done.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Sept. 24:

This week our weather will be just right for fall gardening. What are you waiting for?

* Now is the time to plant for fall. The warm soil will get these veggies off to a fast start.

* Keep harvesting tomatoes, peppers, squash, melons and eggplant. Tomatoes may ripen faster off the vine and sitting on the kitchen counter.

* Compost annuals and vegetable crops that have finished producing.

* Cultivate and add compost to the soil to replenish its nutrients for fall and winter vegetables and flowers.

* Fertilize deciduous fruit trees.

* Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots, bok choy, spinach and potatoes directly into the vegetable beds.

* Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower as well as lettuce seedlings.

* Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.

* Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.

* Divide and replant bulbs, rhizomes and perennials. That includes bearded iris; if they haven’t bloomed in three years, it’s time to dig them up and divide their rhizomes.

* Dig up and divide daylilies as they complete their bloom cycle.

* Divide and transplant peonies that have become overcrowded. Replant with “eyes” about an inch below the soil surface.

* Late September is ideal for sowing a new lawn or re-seeding bare spots.

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