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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Putting Food By: Strawberries

Fragaria × ananassa 'Chandler,' a short-day co...Image via Wikipedia
Hi everyone! I'm so sorry for the lack of posts lately. There has been SOOOO much to do around here lately!! I feel as if I haven't been able to keep up, which has been frustrating. With a few of the projects I can actually see the end in sight, so I hope things will be starting to look up soon! :)

So, it's strawberry season!! Whether you have them growing on your homestead or have been getting them cheaply in the stores lately, now is a great time to put some of those berries up for later when they're not in season. There are quite a few ways you can do that.......

First off, you can freeze them for later use in breakfasts, deserts, or smoothies. Wash and core berries, pat dry and lay on a baking sheet. Set in the freezer for a short while until frozen. Remove and fill freezer bags or boxes.

Dehydrated Strawberries
Choose ripe, juicy, red berries. Gently wash. Remove caps. Cut into 1/2-inch slices. Dry at 130 to 135 degrees until pliable to almost crisp.

Strawberry Jam--No Pectin
Wash 2 quarts strawberries; drain. Remove stems. Crush strawberries one layer at a time. Combine strawberries and 6 cups sugar in a large sauce pot. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly to gelling point. As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: about 4 pints
**This will yield a more 'cooked-fruit' taste. For a more 'fresh-fruit' taste and less cooking time, use a box of fruit pectin and follow their directions.

Strawberry Syrup (This is SO yummy on pancakes!!)
Wash 2 1/2 quarts strawberries; drain. Stem and crush strawberries. Combine strawberries, 1 1/2 cups water and 1 2-inch strip of lemon peel in a medium sauce pot. Simmer 5 minutes. Strain through a damp jelly bag or several layers of cheesecloth. Combine 2 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups water in a medium sauce pot; boil to 230 degrees F. Add strawberry juice and 3 1/2 cups corn syrup to sugar syrup. Boil 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tbsps. lemon juice. Ladle hot syrup into hot jars, leaving 1/4 -inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: about 3 pints

If you happen to have rhubarb available then you can make:

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam
Combine 2 cups crushed strawberries, 2 cups chopped rhubarb, 1 package powdered pectin and 1/4 cup lemon juice in a large sauce pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add 5 1/2 cups sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: about 6 half-pints

If you end up putting lots of berries in the freezer you can use some of them in the fall for one of our favorite recipes.......
Strawberry Applesauce
Peel, core, and chop 1-5lb. bag of apples. Toss with 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice in a large, no -reactive pot. Add 2 qts of strawberries (wash, hull, and crush). Add 2 c. sugar; mix well. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often to prevent sticking. Simmer covered for about 30 minutes or until the apple pieces break down, stirring often. (I then put this through a 'masher' because we like a smooth consistency. Reheat if it happens to cool down too much.) Ladle into prepared jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Seal. Process 1/2 pints-15 minutes; pints-20 minutes in boiling water bath. Yield 4 pints.

In an emergency situation, having lots of jams and jellies on hand will be great to add flavor to breads, biscuits, and other bread items which will probably be very easy to make and will feed big numbers of people. Try to make (or buy) a few different kinds!

Prep On!
Gen-IL Homesteader

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