Two-Berry Cherry Conserve

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Nan took advantage of the summertime fresh berry and cherry glut, patterning this recipe after a gift of commercial conserve she enjoyed last year. Fruit conserves usually include a combination of fruits. If there is sufficient pectin in the fruits themselves, no additional pectin is needed. While you can enjoy this fruit spread on any kind of bread, it makes croissants, homemade biscuits, or scones taste especially spectacular. Stir a little of your favorite fruit liqueur into the conserve to turn it into an elegant dessert sauce for ice cream, cake, and such.

1 pound fresh red raspberries

1 pound pitted fresh sour cherries

1 pound fresh blueberries

2-1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. If you prefer to have a seedless conserve, first puree and sieve raspberries, removing seeds. Coarsely chop half of the cherries. Combine raspberries, cherries, blueberries, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and lemon juice in a 2-quart nonreactive saucepan.

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2. Heat and stir fruit mixture over medium-high heat about 2 or 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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3. Add about a third of the remaining sugar; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Add remaining sugar in two more batches. Bring mixture to a rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil gently, reducing heat as needed to retain a gentle boil, and stirring often. Cook 25 to 30 minutes or until mixture is very thick but not pasty.

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4. Meanwhile, clean and sterilize 1/2-pint canning jars and lids as directed on jar lid package. Boil water in a large water-bath canner. When fruit mixture has reached the proper thickness, ladle into clean, hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace; seal with lids. Boil in water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove from canner; let stand on a wire rack and let cool at least overnight. Makes about 4 half-pints.

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