Strawberry season may be a fleeting moment in the course of the entire gardening season, but it definitely packs a punch while it’s here. A few weeks of overflowing bowls of sun-ripened fruit, berry stained fingers, and the sweet taste of summer… I just want to
bottle can it all up–and that is exactly what I did last week!
With a few jars of strawberry jam still in the pantry from last summer, I decided to go a slightly different route this year, making two versions of strawberry sauce: a canning-safe version of a fresh strawberry sauce I have been making for a number of years, and a batch of Marisa McClellan’s Strawberry Caramel Sauce.
My own version of a basic strawberry sauce is a great option for beginners. The ingredients and process mirror jam-making closely, so you have a pretty basic recipe and process to follow, but the application is actually easier than making strawberry jam. Strawberries are naturally lower in pectin, which can sometimes make obtaining a firm set jam more challenging if you are just learning the ropes of jam-making (particularly if you are going the no added pectin route), but with strawberry sauce, a product that is a little runny is exactly what you are going for.
The end result is a very bright and fresh flavored sauce that tastes just like you took fresh strawberries and tossed them in the blender.
The process for making the strawberry caramel sauce is a little more involved, but as long as you are comfortable reading a candy thermometer, it really isn’t difficult at all. By caramelizing the sugar first, then adding in the pureed berries, a really rich and decadent flavor develops. The thought of making a fruit-based caramel had never crossed my mind until I discovered this recipe, but now that I’ve tried it, I can’t imagine a strawberry season without it and my mind is already starting spin with different variations to try.
The possibilities are endless with strawberry sauce.
Of course ice cream is at the top of the list (and highly recommended), but it would also work well on any number of desserts (um, hello strawberry caramel cheesecake!), as an add-in to your morning yogurt or oatmeal, as a substitute for syrup on pancakes, waffles, or french toast, and the basic recipe could easily be used to add a burst of strawberry flavor to smoothies, lemonade, and even a well-deserved garden cocktail or as the base for a strawberry vinaigrette.
I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite, as I like different qualities about each one, so perhaps a 4th of July strawberry sundae taste test may be order. I wonder where I could find some willing participants for that… :)
4 lbs of strawberries
1 cup of sugar*
2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
Trim hulls from strawberries and combine with sugar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly until berries are soft. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.
Add lemon juice and return to burner, cooking and stirring until sauce comes to a steady boil that can’t be stirred down.
Remove from heat and transfer into prepared half pint jars. Process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath.
*If sauce is not sweet enough for your taste, the amount of sugar can be increased to as much as 2 cups