Today I’ll continue with our adventure into preserving local strawberries to enjoy year round. Now that we’ve made it home from our trip to the pick-your-own berry farm we need to start processing the strawberries.
Freezing berries is one of the easiest ways to preserve them. No need to buy overpriced strawberries from the grocery store in January when you have some sitting in your own freezer at home that you picked yourself locally.
Step 1: Wash the berries in a colander. Use a plate under the colander to catch water while you work.
Step 2: Cut up strawberries. First slice off the top, lay flat and slice in half, slice in half again.
Step 3: Spread out in a single layer on a parchment lined pan.
Step 4: Place pans in the freezer.
Step 5: Once berries are frozen package into freezer bags and place back in the freezer.
Have you seen the label IQF on berries in the grocery isle? It stands for Individually Quick Frozen. By freezing the berries spread out on a pan they stay separate from each other and freezer quicker, which helps to maintain the quality.
Step 1: Wash and core strawberries. To core slide a paring knife into the top of the berry, twist the berry around until the top and core are seperated from the rest of the berry.
Step 2: Puree the berries in a food processor or blender.
Step 3: Place berries in a pot, bring to a boil. Skim foam. Allow to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Step 4: Pass puree through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds. You can also use cheese cloth if you do not have a fine mesh strainer.
Step 5: Return to pot and reduce over low heat for 30 minutes or until reduced by 1/2.
I like to call the result of this process Strawberry Essence. It’s full of compacted flavor with no additives or chemicals. You can freeze it and defrost as needed. I use this in cakes, icings, mouse, anything I want to give a fresh summer time strawberry flavor. I use the puree to make the strawberry mouse in my Strawberry Shortcake Cookie Cup.
Jams are the traditional preserve. It’s a practice that had fallen out of favor for awhile, thankfully it’s starting to become more and more common. Once you make your own jam you will never want to buy grocery store imitations again.
That and anyone you give the jam to will make such pitiful pleas for more that you’ll pretty much be obligated to making some each year. I always keep some extra around in case I need an emergency gift for someone. It makes a great hostess present.
Heres a list of the basic equipment you will need. You can buy kits that have most of this already. At the end of the summer the jars, lids and pectin go on sale for dirt cheap. Be sure to stock up for next year’s canning season.
Yield: 7 x 250 or 236 ml Jars
3 3/4 Cups Crushed Strawberries (about 2 liters/quarts)
1/4 Cup Bottled Lemon Juice
7 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Pouch (85 ml) Liquid Pectin
This reipce is from my Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving, it works great. Just be sure to measure the strawberries after you have crushed/pureed them. I usually make this in a 3 x batch. Did I mention you will have LOTS of people begging or some of your homemade jam?
You want to be sure to put a label on the jams with the date they were made. You can buy canning labels that are premade. They look a little too…. grandmotherly for me. So I make my own using address labels.
You can copy and paste this into a template for address labels and print out using Avery White Mailing Labels 8161 or 5161. Easy, modern, non grandmotherly jam labels!
Next I’ll show you one of the many ways you can use that puree to add amazing flavor, chemical and preservative free, to whip up an impressive dessert (in a cookie cup!) Plus details on Off the List’s one month of blogging giveaway.