Tuesday, May 29, 2012

strawberries equal summer

Last week the boy and I took a morning to head to a strawberry farm about 40 minutes from our house. We have been harvesting strawberries from our garden every few days but it has been 6 and 8 at a time, great for a snack but not for my grander plans. So off we went, and what a fun time we had. In no time (ok, it probably took about 45 minutes) we had picked a large flat full of berries, just shy of 15 pounds!

 During that time, my boy was such a good helper. I did have to remind him occasionally every two seconds: "Pick the BRIGHT red ones, not the pink ones...put them into the box gently!" (He liked to drop them from waist high) but really, truly, he was a good helper, a hard worker and I will take him berry picking any time!
 Toward the end, there was more snacking than saving, but that's half the fun. Here's the boy, two-fisting the strawberries!
 Our bounty! So what do you do with fifteen pounds of strawberries? Well, I'm glad you asked :) Over the course of several more days, this is what we did:
  • Made 20 8-oz. containers of freezer jam. I tried two different recipes, and the one I liked best was from Mom on a Mission, we used 2 cups of sugar for 4 cups of pureed berries, and I did batches with both the regular pectin and the lower sugar pectin, both turned out great. I love a thicker, more spreadable jam, more than a runnier jelly-like jam, and I loved that this recipe used half the sugar of the other recipe I used, I think the strawberry taste comes through more.
  • Froze a gallon bag of strawberry pieces, in batches. You wash and stem the berries and cut the bigger ones into halves or quarters. Lay them out on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper, and freeze flat for several hours before transferring them to a zipper freezer bag. Great for baking in non-strawberry months.
  •  Made a batch of Strawberry oat muffins. These are a yummy breakfast treat...and flourless, for any of you gluten-free readers! They are quite healthy and disappeared fast!
  •  Made two strawberry pies. Modified version of my mom-mom's recipe (because I'm sure she didn't have sugar-free jello!). First make (or buy) a graham-cracker crust and fill it with sliced berries! Then  I used the large box of sugar-free strawberry jello mixed with a tablespoon of cornstarch, made with 1 1/2 cups of boiling water and then ice cubes and cold water to make 3 cups total. Pour over berries, until full. Refrigerate until set. Mmm...mmm...good. THIS is the one food that says "Summer is here" to me. 
  • Just a cup or two of berries left now. I'm sure they will get sliced into salads or over the leftover jello from the pies. Then I've only to decide how many more pounds of berries we can process while it's still strawberry season!
muffins with freezer jam in background

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