Strawberry preserves are simple to find in any grocery store, and because they’re already sweetened and thick, they’re quite easy to make into a dessert sauce or topping. Pectin, a natural binding agent, keeps the preserves thick and will also give your sauce a desirable consistency. To ensure that you get the best taste from a sauce, use the highest-quality preserves you can find. Don’t be afraid to splurge on an artisan or locally produced jar if you think that it contains the freshest, most flavorful berries, because you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic topping.
Scoop about 1/2 cup strawberry preserves from the jar to make enough sauce for four people. Place the preserves in a small saucepan.
Heat the saucepan over low to medium heat on the stove, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
Add about 1 tablespoon of water to the pan of strawberry preserves after it has had a minute or two to grow warm. Stir the topping constantly, simmering over low heat, until the berries begin to break down and the sauce develops a thinner, pourable consistency.
Take a small spoonful of sauce out of the pan and let it cool for a few seconds. Taste the sauce, and stir in up to 1 tablespoon sugar or honey if you’d like it to have more pronounced sweetness.
Turn off the heat when the sauce has reached the consistency you desire. Let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes or until it’s still thin enough to pour but no longer piping hot. If the sauce thickens too much, simply reheat it on the stove for a minute or two.
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Preserves can be used on their own as a sweet topping if you’re pressed for time. The Food Network’s Emeril Lagasse suggests using plain strawberry preserves to top bread pudding, but you could also spoon them onto waffles, French toast, pancakes or muffins.
Combine fresh or frozen strawberries with your preserves to make an even more flavorful sauce. “Eating Well” magazine suggests tossing 1 cup fresh or frozen sliced berries with 1 scant tablespoon sugar and letting the mixture sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Pour it into the sauce with the preserves right before serving.
The sauce will be dangerously hot after it’s finished cooking. To make it cool more rapidly after you take it off the heat, you can transfer it to a nonreactive bowl or place the saucepan in the refrigerator for a few minutes.