Prize Winning Preserves: Strawberry Orange Conserve with a Hint of Ginger

Jar of Strawberry-Orange-Ginger jam with red rose bouquet
buy strawberry orange ginger preserve
*2010 Marin County Fair BLUE RIBBON Winner* (1st Place)
May 2013
Strawberry Orange Conserve *Out-of-Stock* We’ll be making more soon.
8oz Jars~$12 ea, 4oz Jars~$7ea

Who can resist mounds and mounds of freshly picked spring strawberries? Not me! Our local Santa Rosa farmers market has them in abundance. A half flat of strawberries is the same price as three individual baskets, so why not indulge?

Half Flat of Strawberries, Copyright ©2010 Cynthe Brush
Half flat of strawberries from the farmers market

Plus…it’s country fair time where homemade, hand-crafted preserves, pickles, vinegars, breads, cakes, cookies, and other treats are showcased for fairgoers to get inspired by. As I mentioned in my Honey Rose Petal Preserves post, I decided to participate in the 2010 Marin County Fair…with these two jams as well as in the Art & Photography Exhibit.

LOVE making preserves & jams! The seasonal fruits, the colors & fragrances, the pretty glass jars, the creative possibilities, and giving them as gifts… My personal challenge was to find a yummy strawberry jam recipe. Some fruits’ flavors ~ blueberries for example ~ are enhanced by cooking….other fruits lose some of their fresh flavor palette when cooked, such as strawberries IMO.

Passion For Preserves, jam and preserves cookbook
‘Passion For Preserves’ by Frederica Langeland

With several nice preserve-making cookbooks in my kitchen library, I found an interesting recipe in ‘A Passion for Preserves’ by Frederica Langeland for “Old Time French Strawberry Jam.” Decided to improvise by adding diced candied ginger as suggested in an on-line recipe I came across.

Participating in the 2010 Marin County Fair prompted me to learn what the difference is between a jelly, jam, preserve, conserve, and marmalade. Do you know?

Briefly (you can find more on-line):

JELLIES are made with the fruit juices, are contain no fruit pulp, and are perfectly clear.

JAMS contain mashed fruit pulp distributed evenly in clear syrup.

A PRESERVE has small, uniform pieces of fruit distributed evenly throughout the clear syrup.

MARMALADE is a preserve made from one or more citrus fruits.

A CONSERVE is a medley of mixed fruits made in the style of preserves.

Old Time French Strawberry Jam

An Old Time French Strawberry Jam transforms into a prize-winning Strawberry Orange Conserve with a touch of candied ginger!

* 2 pounds (2 quarts) organic Strawberries
* 4 cups of organic Sugar
* Peel of 1 organic Orange
(in one long strip OR diced depending on whether you want the rind in your finished jam or not)
* Juice of 1 organic Meyer Lemon (save rind, seeds, white pith for pectin)
* Diced candied Ginger, added to taste
COMMENT: I used 5 pieces. Twice as much would make the ginger more pronounced.
* 2 Tablespoons Cointreau (optional)

YIELD: About 5 cups (5-8oz jars)

Organic strawberries floating in bowl of water
Strawberries washed and ready to prep for jam

~ Wash the berries. Drain as dry as possible.
Cynthe’s TIP: Put them on paper towels & pat dry.
~ Remove the stems & caps. Cut into small, similar size pieces.
~ Mix gently in a non-reactive metal or ceramic bowl with the sugar, orange peel, and diced candied ginger. Let stand overnight to macerate.

Crystallized ginger on cutting board, Copyright ©2010 Cynthe Brush
Crystallized ginger ready to dice into jam
Strawberry caps & trimmed strawberries
Strawberry caps & trimmed strawberries
Strawberries cut into small slices with minced orange rind in sugared syrup
Strawberries cut into small slices (top) With minced orange rind in sugared syrup (bottom)

The next morning:
~ Transfer to a wide, deep, non-reactive (stainless steel or enamel) pot.
~ Add the lemon juice. Tie the  chopped lemon rind, seeds & white pith into a piece of cheesecloth as a natural pectin source. Put the cheesecloth packet in the pot.
~ Stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Then cook over medium heat, stirring until set (30-40 minutes).
~ During cooking, skim off the foam and discard to keep the finished jam syrup clear.
~ In the meantime, sterilize the clean washed jars in a 200F oven for 10-15 minutes, while soaking the jar lids in boiling water in a metal or ceramic bowl.
COMMENT: These sterilizing techniques are SO much easier than doing the whole clumsy, deep water bath, boiling routine!!
~ After cooking, add the Cointreau, a tablespoon at a time to taste. Rather than using Cointreau, I diced the orange peel into the conserve instead.

Cuisinart Jam pan with cheesecloth packet of citrus rind, seeds & pith, Copyright ©2010 Cynthe Brush
Cuisinart jam pan’s maiden voyage with cheesecloth packet of citrus rind, seeds & pith

~ Ladle into the hot, sterilized jars, leaving a 1/4 inch of headspace for the vacuum seal.
~ Wipe any drips from the jars with a dampened dishcloth. Put the lids in place and tighten down.
~ Invert the jars, tap firmly (but not hard) on a padded surface to release air bubbles. Let sit for 5 minutes, then return to upright and cool completely.
COMMENT: You may hear the jar lids ‘POP’ as the vacuum seals forms while the jars cool.
~ Check the seals, label, and store in a cool, dry cupboard or pantry.

2 stacked jars of freshly made strawberry jams, Copyright ©2010 Cynthe Brush
Two stacked jars of freshly made strawberry jam

COMMENT: Opened jars or jars that don’t form a vacuum due to a poor seal need to be stored in the refrigerator. Properly sealed jam jars will keep for a year or two. After that the flavors become flat and insipid.

The final phase of my jam projects is label design.

This is a trial-and-error, learn-by-doing design process. I’m still working out the graphic approach I want for my labels, as can be seen in the difference between my ‘Meyer Lemon Marmalade‘ label design compared to the more recent ‘Honey Rose Petal Preserves‘ and this ‘Strawberry-Orange-Ginger Conserve’ labels.

I like pictures of a jam’s fruit ingredients, so I take those photos, first. I tried piling up the fruits (right), but knew it looked humorous and too peculiar. Plus all the strawberry texture was monotonous. Assessing the first series of images, decided to slice a strawberry and orange for visual and graphic interest. Was pleased with the results (left).

Orange and strawberries for jam label
Orange and strawberries photo set-ups for jam label

Since I already had developed the Meyer Lemon Marmalade label template, chose to adapt this new label from it. But the more complicated strawberry-orange composition meant the label design had to be simplified and refined, which I did. The main challenge was an issue of legibility with the jam name running over the background of fruits…and how to handle the ingredients listing.

Not until I printed the first color laser proofs, did I realize the square label format wouldn’t adhere well or even fit most of my jam jars, which were too squat, or were round, or had textured surfaces! So, it was back to the computer to redesign labels for the jar lids.

3 jam label designs, Copyright © 2010 Cynthe Brush
Three jam labels, designs in process (Copyright © 2010 Cynthe Brush)

Then I ran into the whole fiasco of finding good Avery brand labels that would print color decently in our laser printer. Won’t go into THAT story….as it’s still not completely resolved. But did get labels decent enough for the fair…still far from satisfactory if these were a commercial product. For that purpose, professional printing services would be required!

I do rise to challenges, enjoy problem-solving, creative exploration, and hands-on learning….so the whole process is very engaging, satisfying, and educational.

5 thoughts on “Prize Winning Preserves: Strawberry Orange Conserve with a Hint of Ginger”

  1. Victoria Brush

    This looks yummy. I hardly ever eat jams, never buy them. I have a funny relationship to sweet – don’t necessarily look for it but I love sweetened condensed milk (can you get sweeter than that?) and chocolate and ice cream. I hardly ever buy this stuff because, if I have it, I’ll gobbled it up all-at-once like an addict. Generally, I don’t miss it when I don’t have it.
    Anyway, not what I had intended to write. My question is – are you permitted by the Marin County Fair to get prize stickers for you jars? You know, like the medallions on best selling books?

  2. The stickers given at the fair are plain and rather ugly. Regional manufacturers of various products: jams, wines, vinegars, salsas, cheeses, etc. who compete at county & state fairs DEFINITELY promote those awards on their websites & product labels. So, the short answer is YES!

    RE: Sweets
    I eat little bits…sweetening my tea, eating several pieces of fruit/ daily. Have figured out I’m balancing blood sugar levels this way. I’m hypoglycemic and can’t gorge on sweets ’cause I’m hyper sensitive and would get ill.

    A tad of chocolate a few times/month when I can’t resist (my skin doesn’t like it). LOVE how chocolate smells! Gourmet eggless ice cream or gelato’s a temptation (food of the gods!), so I don’t generally bring it home. Only make it rarely. For the same reason only make desserts rarely, too. Usually, when I have a yummies eating audience.

  3. Hello Cynthe!

    I stumbled across your blog just last night, while researching the proper pH for lemon curd. I found the answer I needed in a comment to Bri’s lemon curd post back in 2007, then I decided to pop up to your home page. I was amazed to find we’re in the same area and both participated in the Marin County Fair! I saw your beautiful preserve there last weekend.

    I don’t usually post links to my blog on other people’s pages, but I couldn’t find a contact link for you and wanted to share my report from the fair, which you can find here:

    I wish we had crossed paths there this year. It would be a delight to meet other North Bay canners!

  4. Shae ~ Delighted you stopped by. And to learn you’re a passionate jams and preserves maker, too! Just perused numerous articles on your blog and will return to make a comment, promise.

    Wish I had more time at the Marin County Fair…to really LOOK at what folks were preserving. Entered on a whim, inspired by this spring’s Meyer Lemons, only to discover that the way I made mine would have failed to make the grade (re: formal judging standards). Plus, I only had one jar left after giving away the others…and the entry requirements, as you explained, demand two identical jars. I haven’t discovered an abundant free source of lovely Meyers, so it was on to roses and strawberries….blue ribbons and a ‘Best of Show!’

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