Preserving Summer’s Very Best

By Kate Riley June 23, 2010

Hey everyone, it’s summer berry season, so I’m off to the farmer’s market this week to make my annual batch of preserves.  This is a repost from last summer, but I just had to share it again ! 


Every summer, I go to the farmer’s market to buy enough summer berries to make my mixed berry preserves.  I was given a recipe by Mr. CG’s grandmother years ago for refrigerator preserves.  I tweaked her recipe by adding my own special ingredient, and then learned how to can it four years ago.  Now we enjoy mixed berry summer preserves even on the coldest wintery day.   

I start with the freshest fruit.  I use strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.  After they’re rinsed, they look just like this.   

mixed fruit rinsed

fruit crop

 This recipe does involve the canning process, but don’t be intimidated if you’ve never canned anything before!    All you really need is a very large pot and you can make these preserves quite easily.   

Mixed Berry Summer Preserves

6 baskets of strawberries (or 3 lbs.)

4 baskets of blueberries (24 oz.)

6 baskets of raspberries (36 oz.)

6 baskets of blackberries (36 oz.)

Juice from 2 lemons

Zest from 2 oranges

4 cups of sugar

Low or No sugar Pectin*

12 Pint size canning jars

(This recipe makes 12 pints of preserves)

*For those new to canning, note that pectin is not a preservative.  It is a natural extract from citrus fruit that acts as a thickening agent in jams and jellies. 

Begin by rinsing your fruit and trimming your strawberries.  You should end up with 2 large bowls of fruit.  Put fruit aside.   Prep your jars by boiling them in hot water.  Just follow the directions on the bottom of the box that the jars came in. 

After your jars are sanitized, then mix your fruit together, and place in 2 large pots on your stove.  (If you have only 1 pot, you can cut the recipe in half, or just repeat after the first batch is done.)  Add the juice of 1 lemon, the zest from 1 orange, and 1.5 cups of sugar to each pot.

pots on stove  

Bring your fruit to a boil and stir every minute.  You’ll see your fruit will begin to break down like this. 

fruit breaks down

You will cook your fruit about 10 minutes, but no more.  It will begin to turn a bit more liquid and form a bit of foam at the surface. Six minutes into the boiling process, and four minutes before your fruit is fully cooked, add 1/2 box of low sugar pectin to each pot, and stir to allow it to dissolve.   After 10 minutes of cooking, turn the heat off, and ladle your chunky fruit mixture into your jars.  Leave 1/3 inch of headspace at the top. 

chunky fruit

Wipe the rim of your jar to allow your lid to seal properly.

clean rim

Seal your jar of preserves with a lid and rim, then place your jars into a large pot and cover with boiling water.  Process, or boil, your jars for 12 minutes.   Remove your jars from the water and listen for the “pop” that occurs when your jars are sealed.  Properly canned fruit will keep for a year on your pantry shelf !  It helps if you invest in the canning jar tongs wherever canning supplies are sold.  It is the best tool for removing hot jars from boiling water, but I’ve also used metal salad tongs in the past.  

Allow your jars to cool for 24 hours.  I always make my own labels every year, because I give away a lot of these preserves at Christmas time as gifts.


single jar of preserves

On the coldest wintery day, there is nothing better than tea and toast with these preserves.  The orange zest brings out the flavor of your summer fruit and brightens the most blustery day – enjoy !


  1. YUM. This looks so good. And I love your beautiful photographs! Those berries are popping right off my screen this morning. :-)

  2. I think I'm definitely going to try this! It sounds yummy. Now if only I can find some good strawberries (our frost this past winter has left some not so good looking strawberries! Thanks for the recipe!


  3. And she cans too?? Girl, you are amazing! I haven't even attempted to can anything, my mom still does all of that. That looks delish!

    Loved your parents house on the lake. What a spread!

  4. Gosh you're a trooper! I have always heard that canning is as arduous as making tamales! Sure brings back great memories of my great grandmother!!! Your labels are adorable Is there anything you can't do? Will you be replacing the head liner of a car tomorrow? ;) You're a wonder!

    m ^..^

  5. oh my goodness I love that you put labels on them!!! so great & such a perfect gift!

    first time to your blog & am loving it!! :)

    -lauren from Pure Style Home

  6. Looks easy enough! I think I may try it.

    As it turns out, I'm not going to be painting my kitchen cabs. SD said he didn't want me going crazy and stressing out while he's gone, so we're gonna wait and save and have it done professionally. Woo-Hoo!

    Although, part of me is dissapointed…I was looking forward to the challenge. But he's right, I have too much going on to tackle a big project like that. I'm so glad he's looking out for my sanity. But maybe he's just making sure I'm not headed to the assylum so that he'll still have clean clothes and good cookin' to come home to. hmmm…

  7. You decorate AND make Preserves!?! Girl you got it going on!! Kuddos to you. and that looks soooo yummy! I can spray paint a table, recover a chair-but trying to make jelly umm not so much!

  8. That looks amazing…you are super-woman to me! You do it all. :) So, do you use Picasa to do your editing? I've been wanting to learn to do something, anything with my pictures, but wasn't sure if there was anything decent online to use. :)

  9. You make it seem so doable. I am going to try this with my teenage daughter. I think we'll have fun with this one. What a great gift for the holidays, or even as a hostess gift!

  10. FAbulous tutuorial!! Last week for berries at our nearby berry farm. You make me think that I could actually do this. I love your label and your picks are awesome!!
    Hugs, Nerina :)

  11. This looks yummy! Thanks for sharing the recipe; I'm going to copy it to my computer for future use.


  12. That looks so yummy…kudos to you for storing some for the winter. You are a good little ant preparing for winter. ;)

  13. baskets – does that mean pint baskets or quart baskets? This looks delicious – would love to make.

  14. It does look great! How much do you think you end up spending per jar?

  15. The canning process intimidates me, so I make small batches and skip that. Still, you make it look easy.

  16. I never thought I was the "canning" type but
    a) you made it look so easy
    b) your instructions and description rock
    c) I love me some fruit during the off seasons


  17. Oh yum…thanks for the easy instructions and lovely photos! I've never canned before but want to give it a try :)

  18. That looks delicious! Very nice of you to share with us. I recently made jelly for the first time ever. Although mine was with rose petals I'm looking forward to making some berry jam also.

  19. The preserve looks so delicious and the fresh fruit bowl (the first picture) looks delectable!

  20. Mouthwatering! What a wonderful way to enjoy summer long after it's gone.
    BTW, it would take me an hour to pile all that fruit on a plate that perfectly! ;)
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  21. The whole canning process terrified me until my Grandma taught me a handy little trick. She puts the actual jars in the dishwasher before making her batch of jam, so by the time she needs the jars they are nice and hot from the heat cycle. She boils the rims and tops on the stove and turns the heat off a little bit before the batch is ready. Then she fills the jars and uses a cloth to screw on the hot tops. It really works! I made a batch of about 20 jars and only two didn't seal properly which was fine by me… I just ate those jars up first! :)

  22. I only wish more plentiful berriers were available nearby our homes. When we lived in Charleston, I had canned berries everywhere, now, not only do I not have berries but there is a tomato and potato blight in NY and a citrus disease in Florida…

  23. Hi Kate,
    It's nice to meet you!
    I just found your inspiring blog and I'll be back to visit often. The fruit looks delicious!

    Have a wonderful Sunday.
    ~Warmly, Melissa :)

  24. They look great Kate. I was hoping to try out something along these lines this summer!

  25. I've always wondered to how make preserves! I was so excited when I saw this post. I can't wait to try it on my own, for the first time. Thanks Kate, u always rock.

  26. I made this over the weekend! It's still too early to know if my first ever foray into canning was successful, but the jam was delicious! (I put the leftovers in the fridge)

  27. You did it…I was inspired to try canning! I bought the jars and ingredients today for strawberry jam. I heard the delightful pop while the jars were cooling but my jam is still a tad runny…will it thicken or am I destined to start from scratch? Thank you for always inspiring me to get going on my diy projects!! Suzanne ([email protected])

  28. Oh those berries look SO yummy and you made it all look SO easy to do! – I may just have to give it a try!


  29. Awesome!

    Do you find that people are happy to receive home canned products as Christmas gifts? Two years I knocked myself out making gifts- mostly canned items (jams, jellies, pickles, spreads, salsas, bbq sauce) and I feel like they weren't well received. Perhaps next time I should print out prettier labels! LOL!

  30. Looks yummy! Although, I’m pretty sure you’re using your jar lifter upside down :)

  31. This recipe is almost the same as I use, but I go with a little more sugar. I make several batches for our family to get us through the long Canadian winter. I also make extra to give away at Christmas to friends and family. I cut out a circle of cute scrapbook paper to place on the lid then replace the ring lid. The tag says “Mary” Berry Christmas Jam! I love to eat this jam with butter on fresh english muffins, it is so delicious.

  32. Oh this looks so good! I have always wanted to try to do it myself but never got around to it. I certainly do love good preserves on toast, it such a comfort food for me when I’m sick!

  33. I always LOVED my mom’s strawberry preserves…I really want to try this…your instructions make me LESS afraid of canning! I think I can…I think I can…I think I can…pun intended?

  34. Been going to my local Farmers Markets 2x a week, really love going, all the free samples and wonderful way to pick up a fresh wonderful treat! I did a blog on mine to help the local farmers, it was so much fun! Great people, Great food. I bet your jam is amazing! Wish I had a jar! I am a toast addict and it would be perfect! I guess I need to take the leap and make some!

  35. Thank you! I have been looking for a recipe that was more than just strawberries. My beautiful Aunt Joyce left a case of canning jars on my door step this week!

  36. I did a post awhile back on “Demystifying Freezer Jam” and I’m thrilled to see that you are demystifying “real jam” for us! This looks yummy and as always your pictures are GORGEOUS!

  37. I used to be afraid to can but found out that it’s really easy to do. You are right about the jar lifter…I used to use tongs also but was always afraid the jar would slip and crash to the floor. The lifter and a wide mouth funnel are the two things that I can’t do without. Thanks for the great sounding recipe.
    Your pictures are great…those berries look wonderful!

  38. I always thought you needed a special pressure canner to make preserves! May try this. I did freezer jam and it was so sweet it was disgusting and I tossed most of it out. I wonder if this could go with less sugar or if I could use a less sweet less processed sugar like sucanat?

  39. I’m really very happy to find this mini-tutorial. I always want to make my own preserves, but never do because it always seems so daunting. In an effort to save money this year, I am going to make all my Christmas gifts and this is a perfect start. Thank you for sharing!

  40. This looks delicious!!! I have never made mixed berry, but I have already made 2 batches of strawberry this year and I love to make peach jam. Thanks for this recipe. I would love to try it. And your labels are so cute. They look so pretty on your jars for gift giving. Love & blessings from NC!

  41. Was going to make my strawberry preserves today! Great timing. I like to add a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg to mine. I love the idea of orange. Will try that too.
    Thanks for a great one !

  42. Thanks for sharing the recipe. We have several blueberry bushes in our yard, and I am always looking for ways to use them.

  43. Kate,
    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I am going to try to make it this weekend. I do have a question, though. You say in the ingredient list that 4c of sugar is needed. Then in the directions you say to add 1.5c of sugar to each pot, which only totals 3c. Am I missing somewhere that you add the other cup of sugar, or is it really only 3c total? I’m halving your recipe, so I just want to know if I need 1.5c or 2c of sugar.

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