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When you are lucky enough to have a plethora of fruit during the spring season you may find yourself freezing your extra in anticipation of the winter or concerns about the next years crop. One of the easiest fruits to freeze for me is strawberries. I can pretty much get them locally year round since the tri-counties I live in are some of the biggest growers of strawberries and some farms grow year round given we have such a mild climate. But this last spring I wanted to preserve some of the fruit at the height of the season to use as inspiration hit me during the winter.

From the Better Homes and Garden magazine on the shelves over the summer I found a Strawberry Lemon Marmalade that would be perfect to use now while Meyer lemons are in season. I want to give you some simple tips with regard to frozen fruit that will make the difference in a great consistency and gel stage for your finished product.

1.
 Make sure that you thaw your fruit by putting it in a colander over a bowl to not only capture the juices but for the fruit to drain most of its water content from freezing.

2. Never use frozen fruit if you are not going to cook or heat it. The consistency of the fruit once thawed will not present well and will not hold up if you are canning it in light syrup.
3. Do not add back the juices and liquid to the recipe. Measure the quantity needed for the recipe from the whole drained fruit. Your fruit in some cases will shrivel as they drain. Add the juice and water may make the final product too runny and not set properly.

Here is the Strawberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade!

Strawberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Summer Magazine
 
1 small Meyer  Lemons
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice from 2 -3 additional Meyer lemons
1/2 cup water
1/8 tsp baking soda
3 1/2 cups crushed strawberries
3 cups sugar
4 T. Ball Flex Batch No Sugar/Low Sugar Pectin or 1 box No sugar/Low sugar pectin

Using a vegetable peeler remove peel from the small lemon trying to avoid the pith. Using a knife cut into skinny strips (julienne). If you have trouble with this task you can just zest the peel from the lemon.  Juice the other two lemons removing any seeds. In a large saucepan combine peel, juice, water and baking soda.  Bring to boiling then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 20 minutes. (If you are only using the zest,  after the boil,  continue to adding the strawberries. Do not simmer for 20 more minutes)  Do not drain. Stir in the crush (or diced fine) strawberries.  Return to a boil, and then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Add sugar and bring mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Add pectin, and return to a full rolling boil for 1 minute. Skim the foam if necessary.

Filling the jars:  On a dishtowel place your hot jars in a semi circle leaving room for your pot that has your recipe.  Using your funnel in each jar ladle the mixture into the jars leaving 1/4” headspace.  Remove air bubbles and refill to the proper headspace if necessary. Taking a clean papertowel wet it with warm water and wipe the rims of the jars removing any food particles that would interfere with a good seal. Using your magic wand to extract the lids from the hot water and place them on the now cleaned rims. Add your rings to the tops of each of the jars and turn to seal just "finger tight".  

Processing: Make sure your rack is on the bottom of the canner and place the jars in the water bath making sure that the water covers each of the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add hot water to the canner if it doesn't measure up. Cover the pot and turn up the heat under the canner and wait for the water to start boiling. Once the water has come to a boil start your timer for 10 minutes. When complete turn off the heat and remove the cover and let the jars sit for another few minutes. Remove the jars and place them back on the dishtowel in a place that they will sit overnight to cool. Do not touch or move them till the next morning.
Sealing: Some time in the next hour your jars will be making a "pinging" or "popping" noise. That is the glass cooling and the reaction of the lids being sucked into the jar for proper sealing. Some recipes may take overnight to seal. Check your lids and reprocess any jars that did not seal.

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