Creating a blog was out of the question for a long time for me, as measuring everything in the kitchen was like biting into an eggshell. I enjoy cooking and don’t want to waste even a slightest bit of enjoyment in that small world of mine. But little did I know that everything will change, when my husband came home with the Oscar nominated film ‘Julie and Julia’( a real life story) where Julie Powell (part played by Amy Adams) challenged herself to make all the 524 recipes from Julia Child's cook book ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ and blogging all her experiences (The Julie/Julia Project). It was an inspiring movie. A few days later when we were discussing this casually with a friend of ours over tea…everything changed dramatically…..” How about you making at least half of it in one year? Not French but your own. 262 recipes that will inspire others and present it as a blog?” For a minute my mind traveled faster than light… With an experience as a helper in my mother in laws kitchen for 6 years followed by a three year everyday struggle to satisfy the palate of my foodie husband, if I cannot do it then why should I cook? But on the other side with an experience in English literature extending no more than expanding outline stories in English grammar class when I was 18 and two small kids that come in handy at times, will a commitment for the next one year work? Anyway my ‘cook's ego’ didn’t allow me to say no...

So my friends …here I am opening my recipe book, trying to perfect and present 262 recipes in the coming 365 days….A Challenge that will of course tastes good. Come.. Have a walk with me along my journey.. Cheering and inspiring….Forgiving and tolerating…Testing and tasting….for ‘A Tasty Challenge’

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Strawberry Preserve

Recipe No: 52
While we where roaming around with our friends for the long weekend, we spotted this farmers market where they sell locally grown produce. One among them was Strawberries. As the Strawberry season is coming to an end very fast, I thought of freezing some and making some Preserve. So we bought two boxes of Strawberries. It was so sweet that we ate a huge lot of them but I managed to freeze some as well as preserving some.

When it comes to making preserves, one has to be aware of some scientific facts behind this process. So I decided to give some insight regarding some of them. Located in the cell wall of ripe fruits there are a group of carbohydrates called Pectin, which are mostly capable of forming gels when dissolved in water in an acidic medium. This is mostly made use in making jams, jellies and preserves. Some fruits have large amounts of pectin while some others have less. Even though Strawberries have only a less amount of Pectin, it is possible to extract that by slowly cooking it. (Or if you like you can add fruit Pectin that are available in the market.) To give the acidic medium that is essential for the Pectin to form gel, we can add either Lemon/Lime juice or commercially available Citric acid. As I am preserving these Strawberries for a longer period of time I used Citric Acid.

In order to keep the Preserve for a longer period of time it is essential to store them in sterilized containers. This process should be done really carefully. Otherwise the Preserve may go bad very fast. If properly canned, it will stay good at least for a year in a cool dry place without refrigeration.

Even though making and storing Preserves takes some time, it is very easy and economical and needs only a minimum amount of 'baby sitting'.
Ingredients                                  Makes 3 Pints of Preserve
  • Whole Strawberries….6 heaping cups (Wash, dry, hull and leave them whole)
  • Sugar……………………...6 level cups
  • Citric Acid………………..1 ½ Teaspoons
Method of Preparation
  1. Mix the Strawberries and sugar in a wide deep pan and keep aside for at least 6 hours. Overnight is preferred. This step is essential as the sugar will absorb some moisture from the strawberries and will make the Strawberries a bit hard. This will help the berries to retain some of its shape while cooking.
  2. Keep three plates in the freezer before you start making the preserve. This is to test whether the Preserve is ready or not.
  3. Bring the Strawberries to a rolling boil on medium heat. This will take some time but there is no necessity to baby sit this. Stir once in a while. 
  4. Skim off the foam that is coming on top while cooking.
  5. Once boiled, add the Citric acid and let it boil for 10 to 15 minutes or till done.
  6. To know whether the preserve is done add ½ a Teaspoon of the preserve onto a chilled plate. Wait for a few seconds and make a line in the middle with your finger. If the jam flows back into the line very fast, then it is not done. (Check the ones in the 10'o clock and the 4'o clock positions in the picture.) If the line stays like that, then the Preserve is ready to be canned. (The one in the 7'o clock position in the picture.)
  7. Store in Sterilized jars using easy Canning methods for long term storage.
Notes: Citric Acid is available in most of the Indian stores.
If you are not canning and the Preserve will not be over in two weeks, please keep it in the refrigerator.
If you want to can, please read my post on Canning before making the preserve.

    Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and
    serve it to your family with love...


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