Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Strawberry Rubies #12WksXmasTreats

Strawberry Rubies (Phase 2)Yikes! Is it already time for the pre-holiday planning and cooking to start? Apparently it is - there's only 12 weeks until the real crunch begins and I am not going to let myself fall victim to the mad hordes at the mall. Like last year, the bulk of my gifts are going to be homemade preserves, pastas, bakes and spice/drink mixes - both because I'm trying to save money (being unemployed at the moment) and because it's been my experience that people truly welcome a jar, box or bag of homemade treats that were made with love.

Because I am giving most of these as gifts, I am more than willing to splurge on quality for the main ingredients. For these French-inspired, whole strawberries preserved in a caramel-like sugar syrup, it meant local, taste-tested fruit and vanilla-bean infused sugar. I discovered the recipe for the gem-like preserve (aptly named Strawberry Rubies) in a well-worn library copy of Food for Friends: Homemade Gifts for Every Season by Sally Pasley Vargas, and while it's a bit of a process (albeit a mostly inactive one of waiting) the result is more than worth it. Because I only had enough perfect, tiny berries for a quarter batch, I knew I'd be saving the recipe for next year's harvest!

I'm so glad to be participating again this year in the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats hosted at Meal Planning Magic - whether you need inspiration for your own table or for tucking into the holiday baskets of your nearest and dearest, there is bound to be something for everyone to enjoy! We're even set up on Pinterest - come join the over 2400 followers and see what's in store!

Strawberry Rubies (Cooling)
Strawberry Rubies
Makes 2 cups, 16 (2-tbsp) servings)
¾ lb pounds fresh strawberries, washed and hulled (get the smallest ones you can find, or halve them if larger)
¾ cup vanilla sugar
1 cup superfine sugar
zest of 1 lemon
½ cup lemon juice
  1. Stir together the berries and the vanilla sugar in a bowl. Cover and let stand overnight.
  2. Place a colander over a saucepan and pour the macerated berries into it, capturing the syrup in the pot. Set the berries aside over the bowl.
  3. Add the superfine sugar and lemon zest to the pot and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  4. Add the drained strawberries and any accumulated juices to the pot, stir gently and return the mixture to a boil.
  5. Boil, stirring often, for 12 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.
  7. Immediately pour into a glass square baking dish and cool to room temperature.
  8. Cover dish with plastic and set aside overnight.
  9. In the morning, return the berries and syrup to the pot, bring to a boil, and cook, stirring often, about 10 minutes (until the mixture reaches 220F or the jelly point).
  10. Ladle the hot preserve into a clean jar, leaving a ¼” headspace, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 91.7
Total Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 0.3 mg
Total Carbs: 24.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.5 g
Protein: 0.2 g

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