Summer in a jar – berry and fruits preserves

When we lived in California for 10 years I really yearned for seasons and snow. But now that we live in Colorado I wish summer never ended. I love everything about it – warm nights with candle lights and fruit tarts, picnics on the grass in our yard, flowers everywhere and of course all the fruit and berries!

Back in our dear Kazakhstan we used to have such abundance of fruit and berries that we always set some aside for varenje – Russian fruit and berry preserves. My grandma’s cellar was stacked with jars of preserves made from strawberry, cherry, currants, raspberry. And throughout the winter there were always little jars of various preserves at a table for a customary tea after a meal. What a life that was!

Here in US where buying fruit or berries is often hit-and-miss preserving less than perfect berries or fruit is a great way to avoid any food waste and stock up on some delicious treats for the winter.

In any case, whether you have more berries than you can eat before it spoils or you ended up with a box of strawberry that went sad too quickly in your fridge or it simply lacked the sweetness (sadly happens all to often) these two simple recipes will help you to store some of summer brilliance for the cold winter days. Mom and I love them with our morning hot cereal or yogurt. My husband loves them with bliny – Russian crepes. And my oldest little boy likes them without anything and specifies that he should be given a lot of it!! ☺️

I’m going to share here a classic Russian varenje recipe – something you’d find on a table in any household served along tea. And also an even easier and, in my view, more delicious way of preserving berries by making them into a sorbet. Couldn’t be easier!

Varenje

What you need:

  • 1 kg of berries
  • 0.8 kg of sugar

How to:

  1. Cut washed berries to a size of choice
  2. Place them in a pot and sprinkle with sugar. Mix to destribute the sugar all throughout the berries
  3. Leave over night in the fridge
  4. Take it out if the fridge and bring to boil. Let it boil for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat
  5. It is done and ready to be put away in jars.

Note: we use as little sugar as possible, but it does require at least this amount in order to preserve and not start fermenting. Once the lids are tightly closed varenje can be stored at a room temperature. If you prefer less sweet option it will need to store in the fridge and if it starts fermenting just poor it in a pot and bring to boil.

Sorbet (freezing)

This is my new absolutely favorite way to store strawberries. The only downside is (a) it requires being stored in the freezer and thus has a risk of getting freezer smell and (b) it is very hard not to eat it all right away! Honestly πŸ™‚

The upsides of this way of storing is you can avoid sugar all together if you wish and freezing kills less nutrients than boiling.

How to:

  1. Toss washed berries into a blender. We remove the leaves, any parts that started going bad, but don’t bother with anything else.
  2. If your berries aren’t sweet then add sugar to taste.
  3. Distribute into jars!

Sometimes we add lemon zest to our preserves, but the flavor of good berries is so beautiful by itself that we often leave it shine on its own.

If you store your some fruit and berry some other delicious way – I’d love to hear!

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