Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Strawberry Mania!

I really meant to blog about my strawberry experience last week, but alas. Better late than never! Anyway, here's my story and I'm sticking to it...

Last week, I decided to redeem my Groupon for a local orchard and strawberry patch. Don't get jealous, but get this: the Groupon was $13 for 10 pounds of u-pick strawberries. 10 POUNDS OF STRAWBERRIES! FOR THIRTEEN DOLLARS! And your grocery store is making you think you're getting a deal by paying $2.50 per pound. Anyway,

I think I set some sort of strawberry picking record, because I single-handedly picked 10 pounds of strawberries in under 45 minutes.

Here's what almost 10 pounds of strawberries looks like washed and laying out to dry (I say "almost" because at the point the photo was taken, I'd already started using some of the strawberries).

After washing the strawberries in batches and laying them out to dry on a bath towel on a card table, I set to work: freezing some, making some into jam, and leaving the rest for munching.

How to preserve strawberries by freezing:
1. Wash and dry strawberries.
2. Remove hulls (the green part). I do this by using a paring knife to cut a straight line across the top of the strawberry
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
4. Place strawberries on the baking sheet, making sure they're not touching one another. If you remove the hulls with a paring knife, this makes a perfectly flat edge to set the strawberries.
5. Place in the freezer until frozen solid.
6. Remove strawberries from baking sheet and put in a freezer bag. They will keep up to 6 months.

Strawberry Jam

I'll spare you the recipe since most people are partial to their family's recipe. Having never made strawberry jam before, I used the recipe straight from "Put Em Up!" by Sherri Brooks Vinton. She recommends in her Quick Jam recipe using Pomona's Universal Pectin, which cuts down on the added sugar in the jam. After using this pectin, I will never go back to grocery store pectins. This was my first attempt and I think it turned out pretty well!

Prepping jars and cooking the jam

The finished product