Yesterday was a good day.  No, it was a great day.  In an avalanche of bad news days, yesterday was the one when something actually took a turn for the best.  In 2013 we had to say goodbye to so many family and friends that we had to start using our toes to count the heartbreak.  There is a phrase, "not out of the woods yet."  But now there is hope and there is healing, where for so many others, there has been none.  I'm taking a few deep breaths and continuing to hope for the best, but right now things are looking beautiful.    
    I have been a bit of a bird watcher lately.  No reason in particular, but if you get the chance you take the shot, right?  This guy keeps grabbing my attention in the backyard.  I see a flash of red and I run to get my camera.  He was just as curious as we were that day because he didn't move from that very spot for a good half hour.  We were actually trying to scare him away for a big "action shot" but he didn't flinch, even with two little boys screaming out the window at him.        
    The jars continue to empty as we work our way through summer tomatoes, peaches and relish.  As soon as they are washed and put away I am back rummaging through my stockpile in anticipation of filling them up again.  I made strawberry Meyer lemon marmalade and some plain Meyer lemon marmalade so far this winter and both are lovely.  Since I just recently purchased 6 pounds of fresh frozen lingonberries I knew some of my stash would have to be made into jam or preserves.  Every time I opened my freezer to grab the bag of lingonberries there were the bags of tart cherries and strawberries staring me down.  They were saying, "Please use me too!" And then it dawned on me, when do you ever see a mixture of lingonberry anything jam?

    I have only been able to find plain lingonberry jam in some select stores so I figured since I have all this beautiful fruit frozen waiting to be used, why not just throw it all together.  I decided to go with preserves, which by nature have a softer set then jam and normally contain large chunks of fruit.  It is sort of like a chunky berry syrup that just begs to be laid atop Saturday morning crepes or Swedish pancakes.  The lingonberries are full of pectin so there is no need to add any commercial products.  I also wanted these preserves to be as natural as possible so I sweetened them with honey and two whole vanilla beans instead of white sugar.
The berries defrost and macerate in honey overnight.  

Vanilla Cherry Berry Preserves

makes 4 pints

5 lbs frozen fruit (2 lbs strawberries, 1.5 lbs lingonberries*, 1.5 pounds tart cherries)
2 cups of honey
2 whole vanilla beans


*You can purchase fresh lingonberries here.  But you could also try using regular cranberries instead.

Place the frozen fruit and honey in a large bowl and let it defrost and macerate for several hours or overnight to release all the juices from the fruit.  Prepare a boiling water bath canner and enough jars to hold about 4 pints. Place lids in a small saucepan and bring to a bare simmer.  Place the fruit In a large dutch oven or jam pan.  Split open the vanilla beans and scrape out all the seeds with a knife.  Add both the seeds and the split bean to the fruit.  Bring the fruit to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to avoid burning.  Watch the pan closely because strawberries and honey will create a lot of foam.  Continue to boil the preserves until they become thick about 15-30 minutes more. (My preserves were ready when they reached 215°F)  You can perform the freezer test to make sure of the set.  Remove the split vanilla beans and skim off any foam.  Funnel the preserves into prepared jars.
  Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.  Allow the jars to cool completely.  Store sealed jars without rings for up to one year.
 


Comments

01/14/2014 2:22pm

I'm so sorry to hear you've had to experience and go through a pretty rough season, Sandra. I'm glad that the season is beginning to turn though, and a bright hope is now here. Your pictures, as always, are fantastic! I'm so impressed by your black-belt level canning skills. You need to start hosting classes or something!

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01/14/2014 8:20pm

oooo...classes would be so much fun!!! Lids on...lids off ;)

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08/27/2014 12:48pm

our progress in opening

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Storm
01/14/2014 11:03pm

Awesome recipe and your pics are great.. I've always been a little hesitant about canning. Just fearful of not getting it right but you make it seem simple. Thanks Sandra!

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01/15/2014 9:13am

Canning is definitely intimidating at first but once you get the hang of what to do it becomes very easy. And just remember that if you do make something and the canning doesn't go right you can always freeze or refrigerate your preserves :)

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01/15/2014 2:06am

Awww, sorry you had such a tough 2013. It's always so hard when losses are all bunched together - not that a single loss isn't devastating on it's own. I live in the land of lingon, so see all kinds of lingon blends here, but most people just go for it straight up. We introduced cranberry jelly to some Swedish people around thanksgiving and that was the most confusing converstaion ever! This lingon / cherry / vanilla combo sounds just great. I've been really into this gin and jam concoction lately, and I bet these preserves would be amazing in it!

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01/15/2014 9:18am

you are definitely in the land of lingon :) I think it is so strange that no one combines lingonberry with anything else. It is such a great source of pectin that not pairing it with low pectin fruit like strawberries almost seems silly. But I do understand the love of lingonberry just straight up...right now I have jars of the whole berries in a simple syrup for my crepes and smoothies....and now I'm thinking about cocktails...gin and jam you say? haha!

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01/16/2014 4:07pm

This looks so, so good. What a great idea to combine your frozen fruit into jam (hail to the queen!) It really looks delicious. Now, do tell me- what does lingonberry taste like? You're making me want to order some... And thanks for the tip about its naturally occurring pectin, I was wondering if you needed to add your own.
Which by the way- have you ever made homemade pectin?

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01/16/2014 11:53pm

I actually just did just make some homemade pectin with the pith of a whole bunch of meyer lemons. I haven't used it yet because I normally like to make jam without any additional pectin. But I am interested to see how well it works compared to the commercial stuff.

And lingonberries are beautiful...they are very similar to a cranberry but if you get the fresh ones the little berries pop in your mouth like caviar. The tartness is mild so all they need is a little bit of sugar to be balanced. You should see if you can find some jam..sometimes fancy grocery stores will carry it and Ikea is probably the number one place to get some. (they even have lingonberry juice in the cafeteria). I have always wanted to get some fresh lingonberries so I was in the mood to splurge on some. I think it was worth the cost :)

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01/21/2014 10:14pm

Just catchin up on your posts! Sorry to hear that you had such a rough 2013 and hope that things continue to look up.

I love how you used honey in this recipe, and whole vanilla beans. Your canning adventures always sound so delicious. You keep reminding me that I need to start exploring preserving beyond fermentation. Although frozen, I've got lingonberries :)

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01/22/2014 3:42pm

Thanks Sofia, things are definitely starting to look up. I love how I'm inspiring preserving and you are inspiring me to ferment :) It's a win win situation here!!!

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01/22/2014 4:18pm

The pictures are amazing, like always!

Hope you will have a good 2014. Good luck!

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01/22/2014 5:02pm

Thanks John :)

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01/26/2014 11:26am

Your posts simply take my breath away... you know what a fan I am -- pinned your gorgeous cherry berry preserves yesterday morning and excited to see the action on it -- anything I can do to put your beauty and creativity out into the universe for the world to see, I am there... so happy to read about the hope and healing... you and your family are in my thoughts. Breathe, love, laugh and enjoy the precious moments - xox.

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01/27/2014 10:05pm

Thanks so much for spreading the love around Kelly. And thank you so much for the wonderful thoughts and inspiration you lend me :)

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08/04/2014 7:22am

The recipe you posted here is really awesome. I really like this recipe.

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