It’s the end of my 3rd batch of preserves in two nights. 3 liters of strawberry jam, 4 jars of preserved strawberries in syrup and 3 jars of stewed rhubarb. It’s going to be a good winter.
This post may not be very exciting to those of you who do not make preserves – I am hoping that this connects with at least one person that does (or will try) because I am BOUNCING with excitement.
When making jam/ preserved fruit, you are often left with a small amount of juice that you simply can’t pack into a jar. It’s often a tablespoon or two. Typical approach is to put it in the fridge and find a use – pancakes, flavor a cocktail or add to a can that you open in the first week.
The problem with the syrup alone is that it is not all sweet – there is an undertone of lemon juice (used in the preserving process). The lemon is almost impossible to detect in the jam/ preserve because the sweet fruit brings the whole deal into context. I pack all the berries I can in my jar so my leftover is typically just this juice. I love it on pancakes but was sure there must be another use.
As I was cleaning the kitchen from the evenings toll, I made a pot of tea. I’ve been rather excited about “real” iced tea lately so I began the process with some of my leftover boiled water that wasn’t used in the rhubarb process. I’m sure you know where this is going now – I was still clueless as I steeped the tea on the counter and sweetened it slightly. I didn’t even clue in as I added a touch of lemon juice into the tea.
As I put the tin of loose-leaf tea back in the counter I laughed at the irony that I had chosen tea made with wild strawberry leaves as it’s base. I’ve just processed 25 pounds of strawberries in the last 24 hours. It hit me that I had strawberries, sugar and lemon in the tea and only then did I notice the glass on the counter with my leftovers from preserving – strawberry juice matched with sugar and lemon.
This lemon-berry mix is so ideal for tea that I now also have another use for the leftover syrup from the preserved whole berries that we’ll eat in the winter (contrary to popular belief, I really do have a limit to how much ice cream I can eat). I’m actually thinking that the berries might occasionally play second-fiddle to their divine juice!
For those of you who make preserves and the like (or those who know people who do) – what do you do with the bits that just don’t fit in the jar?