Are you looking for a way to preserve strawberries that isn’t another jam? Then this strawberry-lemonade concentrate is what you need! Learn how to make and can strawberry lemonade concentrate with this step-by-step tutorial!
June here in PA screams strawberry season. I know that further south, your berries ripen as early as March – and believe me, I’m jealous – but June is the start of our busy garden season. There are years I am all about the jellies and jams, there is something about strawberry jam made from fresh-picked strawberries! And then there are years I expand my horizons because I have too many berries than I know what to do with, and you can only subject yourself to so much jam-making.
This strawberry-lemonade concentrate came from a particularly abundant strawberry season, and is the absolute perfect way to have that summer fresh strawberry flavor all year long! Just try to make it past August and still have some jars of this left. I dare you!
What You’ll Need:
- 6 cups halved strawberries
- Water (to wash the berries)
- Vinegar (to wash the berries)
- Container* (to wash the berries)
- Immersion Blender*
- 6qt pan*
- Candy Thermometer*
- 6 cups Granulated Sugar
- 4 cups Lemon Juice
- Silicone Spatula*
- Water Bath Canning Kit* – I’ve had this kit since 2010. It’s been through a lot, including being dropped on my deck, and it’s still kicking! The canner itself holds up to 7 quarts, or 9 pints, and is a breeze to use. Plus, the kit comes with other items you’ll need, like the headspace tool, jar lifter, and funnel, without having to hunt them down and purchase them separately.
- Jars, Lids & Rings*
This recipe was adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving*. You can find this recipe and over 400 more delicious recipes in it.
Wash The Berries
As soon as we get the berries home, I like to wash and cut them. When we pick them at a local farm, they can go very fast if I just shove them in the fridge like the ones I buy at the grocery store. Nothing is worse than spending time picking 16 pounds of berries to have them spoil overnight.
I fill a clean container with water and pour in a splash of vinegar. There’s a ratio, but since I’m washing and immediately processing, I’m not too finicky about sticking to the exact ratio.
Once the berries are washed, cut off the top, hull them, and cut them in half. This recipe calls for 6 cups worth of hulled and halved berries. Place the berries in your 6qt stainless steel pot.
Blend the Berries
Next, you need to puree the berries. Most recipes recommend working in batches using a food processor, but I prefer to use my immersion blender*. By far! It takes out the “in small batches” and makes quick work of an otherwise tedious and messy task.
I also just blend them in the pot I’m about to cook them in. This means less cleanup for me. It’s a win-win-win scenario!
Make the Concentrate
Add the sugar and the lemon juice, stirring to combine over low heat. We have a gas stove, and if I go much higher than low heat I’ll scorch the berries quick. The goal here is delicious lemonade, not burnt berries.
Once the sugar is entirely dissolved, you can attach the candy thermometer to the side of your pot, making sure that it doesn’t rest on the bottom of the pot. You want to heat the mixture to 190°F. Be careful to not boil the mixture!
Prep the Canner, Jars & Lids
If you’re cooking on low heat, there’s some lull time before you reach 190°. This is the perfect time to fill and heat the canner and make sure your jars, lids & rings are washed and clean.
Fill the Jars
Once the strawberry mixture reaches 190°F, remove it from the heat. Using the funnel and ladle, fill your pint jars, leaving ¼” headspace.
Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp cloth, and add a lid and ring to the top of the jar. Twist the ring until it is finger-tip tight, and no tighter.
Place the pint jars in a water-bath canner, and process for 15 minutes, adjusting the process time for elevation.
When the processing time is done, turn off the heat and wait five minutes. Using the jar lifters, remove the jars from the water-bath canner, place them on a towel, and let them cool overnight.
Test the seal, remove the rings, label your jars, and store them in a cool dry place for up to 6 months.
Recipe makes 5 – 7 pints
The original recipe recommends 1 part concentrate to 1 part water, but we find that incredibly sweet. A 1-part concentrate to 2-part water is a bit better for us, but it does need some fine-tuning and adjusting depending on the sweetness of the berries combined with the sugar.