No meal is complete without something sweet, in the summer berries are a staple of every household. But berries are so perishable that it can be hard sometimes to use them all up before mold takes its hold. Basic storage is key, never pre-wash fruit before storage because the added water can speed up molding by providing ideal conditions for the bacteria to take hold. Always store fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries in the refrigerator. Other fruits such as bananas, apples, oranges, and peaches have a tough thick skin to protect the delicate insides so they can be stored on the kitchen counter. Melons can be stored outside refrigeration for short periods of time such as 2 days or less, but once cut into they must be stored in a refrigerator to prevent microscopic bacteria from growing and making someone very sick.
Other ways to preserve summertime fruits are by making your own jellies, jams, and preserves. A favorite recipe of mine came about when my garden exploded with a surplus of rhubarb and strawberries.
Brandi’s Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
- 5 Cups quartered strawberries
- 5 Cups small dice rhubarb (peel removed)
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- 11 Cups of sugar (It looks like a lot but trust me)
- 2 (3 1/2 oz) packages of powdered fruit pectin
- 12 half pint jars (sterilized first)
First things first, get the biggest pot in the kitchen and fill it up with enough water to cover the half pint jars by at least 3 inches. To sterilize your jars bring the water to a boil and take the empty glass jars (lids and sealer top removed) and set down in the boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Remove and set upside down on a clean kitchen towel, do the same with the outer lid rings. Do not soak the sealer tops, just a quick dip will do. Keep the water boiling, you are going to need it later.
In another large pot add the strawberries, rhubarb, and lemon juice, bring to a boil. All of the juice will come out of both making it possible to boil “dry ingredients”. Add the sugar 1 cup at a time dissolving completely each time. Skim off any white foam that comes to the surface. Ladle hot Jam into half pint jars leaving about 1/4 of an inch of space at the top. Seal completely but don’t tighten too much, air can not escape and you will not get a good enough seal. Place into the boiling water and boil for about 6-10 minutes and remove to a wire rack, let cool. If the “button” on the top is still popped up, the seal is too poor and the jar needs to be eaten within the week and stored in the refrigerator.
The fruit you use is up to you, local Kroger’s stores around Sylvania and Toledo are proud to sell produce by local farmers! You pick orcherds are another great place to find fresh fruit, Erie Orcherds is picking blueberries at $2.50 a pound, and there is even the good old farmers market. Canning is not a daunting task and is worth doing to save the flavor of summer.