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This recipe showcases the strawberry in all its glory — sweet, plump and juicy — with honey instead of sugar. These preserves make a great topping for ice cream, yogurt, pound cake and more, but it’s especially good on waffles or pancakes in place of syrup.
Because strawberries range in sweetness (due to their variety, region grown and ripeness), taste a few and determine if your berries require more or less honey. For a heavy honey flavor, use a dark honey, such as buckwheat or wildflower. For a milder flavor, use a light honey, such as orange blossom or clover. Just remember that honey and water are not equal in weight, so always measure.
This recipe makes 5 to 6 half pints.
• 2 quarts strawberries
• 3 cups dark honey (buckwheat or wildflower) or 6 cups of light honey (orange blossom or clover)
• 9 to 12 lemon verbena leaves, crushed or diced
• 1 cup bottled lemon juice
• 1/3 cup water
1. Wash and hull strawberries. Sterilize six 1/2-pint jars, lids and screw bands and keep them in hot water until ready to process (step 6).
2. Combine strawberries and honey in a large, nonmetallic bowl, and let stand for about four hours.
3. Transfer strawberry mixture to a large pot; do not drain. Slowly bring mixture to a boil. With a slotted spoon, skim off any foam that rises. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 20 minutes.
4. While mixture cooks, create lemon verbena infusion. Combine lemon verbena leaves and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; immediately cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 15 minutes.
5. Strain leaves out of the infusion. Add lemon juice and lemon verbena infusion to strawberry mixture, and simmer on low for an additional 10 minutes.
6. Remove sterilized jars from water, and place on a washcloth. Using a funnel, spoon mixture into the jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles by running a plastic spatula between the berries and the jar, if necessary.
7. Place lids and screw bands in place, finger-tight. Process in a water-bath canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Allow jars to cool with several inches of space around them for 12 hours.
8. Check seal. Use the jars that didn’t seal within one week, and store in the refrigerator. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature, without bands, for up to a year.