Strawberry season is upon us. What better indicator that spring has arrived? Shady groundhogs and April showers are unpredictable, but when strawberries appear at the farmers market, it means, undoubtedly, that spring has sprung.
I have never been much of a preserves, jam or jelly kind of gal. I like my fruit raw and ripe. But, then I made these simple, strawberry preserves and ended up with springtime in a jar. They are the best! The berry flavor intensifies with time, so they taste incredible the day you make them and then they somehow manage to taste even better a week later. And even better again the week after that (if you’ve still got some left.)
For breakfast, I add a big dollop of these preserves to a bowl of my favorite plain Greek yogurt, toss in a handful of nuts and seeds, a dash of cinnamon, granola if I’ve got it, and maybe a sliced banana. It’s a proper good morning springtime slurry of the highest order.
But, if you really want to #treatyoself, then do the following. (This is my favorite snack of all snacks, truly.) Take a slice of good bread, warm or toasted to your liking, top with a thick slab of room temperature La Tur cheese (found at Whole Foods or other specialty cheese shops) and a generous smear of these preserves. It tastes like royalty. You’ll see.
Seven Spoons Strawberry Spread
Makes about 1 pint
Adapted from Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady
Quick note about the Seven Spoons cookbook: I was lucky enough to come across an advance copy back in January at Omnivore Books, my very favorite bookstore on planet earth. I didn’t know the cookbook hadn’t officially released until I tried to buy a copy for my mom for her birthday in late February and Google told me I couldn’t purchase it anywhere until April. Since buying it, I’ve made bread, burgers, miso hummus, coconut milk kheer, and these preserves. And I’ve only just begun! Pre-order your copy here, or if you’re in SF, buy at Omnivore Books starting April 21st.
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, plus more from the pepper mill
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
1 nub of ginger, peeled
2 pounds strawberries
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup vinegar (champagne, red, white or apple cider will all work well)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon butter
Pinch of kosher salt, to taste
Peel the rind from the lemon, then squeeze the juice into a large nonreactive bowl and add the rind. Bundle up the peppercorns and coriander seeds and seal in an empty tea bag or doubled piece of cheesecloth. Crush the contents of the bag a bit (gently without breaking the bag) and add the bag to the lemon mixture, along with the bay leaves and ginger.
Hull the strawberries and leave whole if tiny, or cut into bite-sized pieces if larger, making sure all the berries are of similar size. Place in a bowl. Pour the sugar over the fruit, then the vinegar and salt. Toss to combine. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least an hour. (The recipe calls for 3 hours or overnight in the fridge, but if your berries are sweet, I think an hour works just fine.) Stir occasionally.
Set a colander over a wide, heavy nonreactive pot. Give the berries and juice a stir, scraping any remaining juice or sugar into the pot. Tip the fruit back into the bowl. Add the lemon peel, spice bag and butter to the pot, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the juices are clear, darkened, and beginning to thicken, around 7 minutes.
Add the berries to the pot and continue to cook, stirring a bit here and there, until the fruit is plump but not falling apart, 8 to 10 minutes more. Discard the lemon, ginger, bay leaves and spice bag. Shower the preserves with a few grindings of pepper and a pinch of salt, stir and pour into a jar. Seal and cool to room temperature, the refrigerate for up to 1 month or so.