Hi fellow VA bloggers—so fantastic to join you all in celebrating Virginia! I’m Jes of Eating Appalachia and I hail from Roanoke down in the southwestern corner Virginia. Originally from Atlanta, I made my home here after earning my MFA at Hollins University in Poetry (I was in it for the money…wink wink) and falling in love with the mountains, local produce, and a fantastic fellow who goes by G here on the internet. My blog centers on food (hence the “eating!”) and features vegan recipes and omni restaurant reviews from around the world. I guess you could say I live to eat—and now I’m even making a little bit of a living off it. Can’t beat that!

Introduction aside, today I’ve decided to share with you all a recipe that incorporates everything I stand for food-wise (fresh local produce, booze, and preservation)—Strawberry Bourbon Brown Sugar Preserves. While strawberries are now a bit out of season, this is definitely a recipe to hold onto for next year or one to make with some of the strawberries you might have frozen. And what beats a recipe with bourbon? (I swear, if you can put liquor in it, chances are I’ve already made it or it’s on my list!)

A few years ago I jumped on the canning train and even worked for an entrepreneur who opened a small local foods restaurant & store here in Roanoke. While the business venture didn’t pan out in the end, the time that I spent culling through boxes and boxes of fruits and vegetables, slicing & seasoning, and standing over giant pots of boiling water instilled what I think will be a life-long infatuation with fresh food preservation. It’s amazing all the different ways you can pickle and preserve. If you’re looking for a good place to learn how to can, check out the blog Food in Jars or the book Canning for a New Generation–love them both.

This particular recipe focuses on the sweeter side of preserved food and is a great way to honor the late spring’s bounty. While I love strawberry jam, I found myself wanting to make a more updated version of the classic recipe. A quick Google search left me wondering why on earth no one else had thought to add bourbon to strawberry preserves—seems like a no-brainer, right? So I decided to run with it. The resulting preserves are light and tart with a mellow, caramel-oak backtone, perfect to serve on freshly baked biscuits. While not overtly boozy, the bourbon adds a nice warmth to the preserves and gives them just a little more depth than you’d normally find in strawberry jam. Light. Sweet. Tart. Dark. These preserves pack a lot of differing flavors that definitely complement each other—Southern to the core with a bit of Appalachian flair.

Strawberry Bourbon Brown Sugar Preserves

  • 6 c Crushed strawberries (about 1.5 quarts whole)
  • 3 tbsp Low or no-sugar pectin (I used Ball’s)
  • 2/3 c Bourbon
  • 1 c Brown Sugar
  • Jars & lids for canning
  • Canning supplies

In a medium stock pot, combine the crushed strawberries and pectin. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.

Add brown sugar and bourbon. Return to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

If canning, process in a hot water bath per these instructions for 10 minutes to fully preserve and seal.

Makes 2 ½ pints.


Virginia Love,

Jes of Eating Appalachia