A true Southern woman knows that one can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Nellie Duke is a true Southern woman.
Miss Nellie has been the chair of the Georgia Commission on Women since 1994, and her sweet encouragement comes in the form of homemade jelly. Meeting days find her roaming the halls of the Capitol with a box of sparkly glass half-pint Ball jars filled with the sweet, sticky, yummy goodness of Nellie’s Jellies. If you are lucky, you get to browse through the box to find your favorite flavor to take home. If you are really lucky, like the Capitol guards who help her park her car, you get first dibs on the offerings.
April and May are strawberry season in Georgia, and I cannot think of a better way to preserve the taste of spring sunshine than in a jar of homemade strawberry preserves. Miss Nellie has kindly agreed to share her strawberry preserves recipe with our readers so others can enjoy a coveted jar of their own.
Straight from the kitchen of Miss Nellie:
Some of the sweets [Nellies Jellies] are jellies, but others are jams, preserves or apple butter! Strawberry is PRESERVES!
Here is how I do it!
Nellie’s Jellies Strawberry Preserves
3 Quarts Strawberries
13 cups Pure Cane Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons pure, 100% fruit pectin (Surejell, Certo etc. may be used if necessary, but see their directions as to amount)
Remove lids, place in pan of water, and boil for a few minutes. Turn off heat, drain. Place lids aside until preserves are ready to fill in jars, preferably the 8-ounce size. To prepare jars, if you have the equipment, sterilize as directed, drain dry, then fill with preserves and screw lids on tightly. I also turn them upside down while very hot, which aids in sealing successfully. Turn up after cooling at least 15 minutes.
Remove stems and wash berries. Drain. Cut into halves, or quarters, if large. Place in large, heavy pan so they are not crowded when sugar is added. They have to boil and need extra space. Add sugar and stir until well mixed. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. (This is very important with strawberries, for they have a tendency to boil over! If you don’t believe this, ask Bette Rose Bowers about the “Jam Session” we had at her farm some years ago.) Cook until berries are soft and somewhat transparent. (Usually 15-25 minutes depending upon the berries, which, like people, are often different!) You can tell that they are ready when the liquid “clumps” off the spoon when you stir. If nobody is looking, take a spoon, steal a bite, and decide when it is ready to take up!
I use a soup ladle to pour into prepared jars, screw on tops, invert, and let stand 15 minutes or more to cool. Inverting while hot, or turning upside down, allows the top to seal better. Put labels on jars and store up to two years. (You probably will not have any left that long, but it will be edible even longer if you do!)
For more information on making jams, jellies, and preserves visit the University of Georgia National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Karla Jacobs is a member of the Georgia Commission on Women. She lives in Marietta with her husband, two kids, a dog, and some fish. She likes her wheat toast medium brown with a generous dollop of Miss Nellie’s Raspberry Moonshine Jelly.