fresh strawberries on a vanilla crew pie

Strawberry-Vanilla Preserves

Excerpted from Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin by Allison Carroll Duffy (Fair Winds Press, June 2013).
Allison says: With ripe, in-season strawberries, combined with a smooth, exotic note of fresh vanilla, this preserve is nothing short of heavenly. It will add a bit of flair to the breakfast table (or bagel) of course, but it’s also great in desserts—try it on top of a biscuit with a bit of whipped cream for a spectacular strawberry-vanilla shortcake! The berries in this preserve tend to float to the top during canning, so mix it up well before serving.


TIP: Shapely Strawberries
Unlike jams, which usually require that you mash the fruit, when you’re making preserves, the idea is to keep individual pieces of fruit (or uniformly cut pieces of fruit) mostly whole and intact. For strawberries, small or average-size berries are ideal, though larger berries will work—simply slice them in half if they are too big. To help avoid mashing delicate fruit unintentionally, use a wider saucepan so that fruit has room to spread out and cook evenly without a lot of stirring. And when you do stir, stir with a back-and-forth motion, rather than an up-and-down motion—this way you’ll be less likely to crush the berries.
Servings 5 cups


  • pounds strawberries
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • teaspoons calcium water see step #1
  • cups sugar
  • teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin mixed with sweetener


  • Before you begin, prepare calcium water.
    To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well.
    Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.
  • Wash your jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 full with water, bring canner to a rolling boil, and boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them. (Add 1 extra minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.) Reduce heat and allow jars to remain in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small sauce pan, heat to a low simmer, and hold until ready to use.
  • Rinse strawberries and remove stems.
  • Combine strawberries and the ½ cup of water in a large saucepan. Using a paring knife, slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the vanilla seeds and the bean pod itself to the strawberries. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir carefully—you don’t want to crush the berries. Remove from heat.
  • Measure 4 cups of the cooked strawberry mixture (saving any extra for another use), and return the measured quantity to the saucepan. Add calcium water and mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine sugar and pectin powder. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  • Bring strawberry mixture back to a full boil over high heat. Slowly add pectin-sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve pectin while the preserves come back up to a boil. Once the preserves return to a full boil, remove the pan from the heat. Using tongs, carefully remove the vanilla bean pod from the preserves and discard.
  • Can Your Preserves: Remove jars from canner and ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, put on lids and screw bands, and tighten to fingertip tight. Lower filled jars into canner, ensuring jars are not touching each other and are covered with at least 1 to 2 inches of water. Place lid on canner, return to a rolling boil, and process for 10 minutes (adjusting for altitude if necessary). Turn off heat and allow canner to sit untouched for 5 minutes, then remove jars and allow to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Confirm that jars have sealed, then store properly.

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15 Responses

  1. Niki
    | Reply

    Could vanilla extract be substituted for the vanilla bean in this recipe?

    • Shelby Collings
      | Reply

      Yes, you will use 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to replace the vanilla bean in this recipe. Happy jamming!

  2. Katy
    | Reply

    Are we supposed to measure 4 cups of the strawberries *including* the liquid? Because I was so gentle with my strawberries it left really big chunks, and then alot of liquid. So my jars after canning are half liquid half strawberries floating. Was it supposed to be like that?

    • Shelby Collings
      | Reply

      Hello Kathy,
      Yes you would also want to include the liquid.

      What you have is called “fruit float.” When the jars of jam are very hot and there is no jell yet, the pulp, which is lighter than the juice, is able to float to the top of the jar. Strawberries are prone to fruit float although it doesn’t always happen. Other fruits can have fruit float also. You are not doing anything wrong. However, if you want to discourage fruit float from happening, you can mash your fruit a little more and you can cook your fruit for a little while before you bring it up to the full boil. You could even add a little of your sweetener to cook with the fruit, still leaving enough sweetener to adequately disburse the pectin powder without going over the sweetener limit.

      In the future, when you take the jars out of the water bath, leave them for about an hour to start cooling and seal. Then come back and check to make sure they are all sealed. If you see that you have fruit float, turn the jars upside down to force the pulp to redistribute through the jar. Come back in about 45 minutes and turn the jars right side up to once again force the pulp to redistribute through the jar. Check again in another 45 minutes and if you have a distinct dividing line, turn the jars upside down again. Turn the jars right side up again in about 30 minutes. You always want the jars to end up right side up. By keeping the pulp well distributed throughout the jars, there will not be a dividing line when the jell finally starts and locks everything into place.

      If your jam has jelled in a separated state, you can gently stir the pulp and juice back together when you open the jar to eat it. Separated jam in sealed jars will store safely.

      • Katy
        | Reply

        Thank you!

      • Katy
        | Reply

        One more thing, is it ok to add more sugar than suggested for all of these recipes? On the other recipe you said it was fine, but does sugar affect the ph in these recipes? For example, if, for whatever reason, I wanted to use 2 cups of sugar in this recipe, would that alter things too much?

        • Shelby Collings
          | Reply

          You sure can! It will just need to be added AFTER the original amount and the pectin is dissolved into the fruit.

  3. Kayci
    | Reply

    Can I preserve this in pint jars for 30 minutes to use as strawberry pie filling- or could you point me to an approved Strawberry pie filling recipe?

    • Shelby Collings
      | Reply

      Hello Kayci,

      We haven’t actually made the pie filling with strawberries yet, but it is likely it would work just fine with this Blueberry Pie Filling recipe. You will not need to add the lemon juice unless you want to for the flavor. Also, you should cut the strawberries into pieces in order to be sure to get some juice. You would use the same amounts of calcium water and pectin.

      If you do give it a try with strawberries, we’d love to hear your results 😊

  4. RedBlueSpice
    | Reply

    Hi! My vanilla beans are making extract. Is there a way to add vanilla extract, instead of the vanilla bean? Glycerin or alcohol based?

    • Shelby Collings
      | Reply

      Yes, you can replace the vanilla bean with 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract 😊

  5. Beverly Strickland
    | Reply

    First, yes, I do love this recipe and love sharing it. I do have a question that someone may be able to answer. In this recipe the ingredients list adjusts to the amount of strawberries (quarts/pounds) and the how many cups of preserves that it makes. The water in the ingredients changes but the “one half cup” in the recipe directions does not change when the amount of strawberries are increased.

    Also in Step 4 the directions read “ Measure 4 cups of the cooked strawberry mixture (saving any extra for another use). If the recipe has been increased in the “Ingredients” section, the recipe “directions” section should not be limited to just 4 cups because the amount of pectin (and other ingredients) increases when the yield increases.

    The first time I used this I took out the 4 cups and continued but since I doubled the recipe I started over again using the remaining 4 cups and repeated the recipe. Seems that I am missing something. thanks I know someone can hle me understand this better.

    • Shelby Collings
      | Reply

      Hello Beverly,

      We are so sorry about that! Yes, that is a glitch in the programming. Each ingredient in the recipe and the directions will need to be doubled or tripled according to how many times you multiply it.

  6. Jenn Swanson
    | Reply

    Oh my goodness…this is delicious. Today I made a batch of this and also a batch of the ginger peach jam…and wow. Love it! Thank you, I am enjoying the methodology and the resulting fabulous taste. 🙂

    • Shelby Collings
      | Reply

      Hooray! You are so welcome Jenn, we are so thrilled you loved it!

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