right now

right now

Apr 30, 2012

pop, pop, POP!

That was the sound of the kitchen Saturday night.  How can I possibly narrow down these photos to just a few?  There's no way, so you will be subjected to all of them - I mean come on, they're strawberries!

Strawberry season is about 3 weeks ahead of normal this year.  The weather was great for picking, low 60's and cloudy and no mosquitoes.  I may have mentioned that I ripped my strawberry beds out about 3 years ago.  This is why...

Our immediate area is famous for strawberries, they love the beach apparently :)  Since my beds can't put out as much as we need and take up valuable space the rest of the year I leave this one to the local strawberry farmers.  In a 5 minute drive I can pick as much as I need, all organic and as fresh as they get.

Everyone could use a helping "hand" while picking berries!

Total picked: 21 lbs

The kids are getting better at picking now, aren't picking the biggest ones and are able to judge ripeness and move quicker this year.  You have to be quick to live in my house :)

Where to start?

No potato mashers or food processors to wash here, I told Finn to wash up and dive in "old skool" to get the job done quick - he loved it, but he loves anything to do with berries, he's probably take a bath in it if I told him to.

Next we were left with over a gallon of pure strawberry puree and 2 sheets of whole berries for the freezer.  

Time to jam.  If you haven't used Pomona's Pectin, you are missing out!  This is a two part mixture that uses calcium to activate the pectin, meaning you can make jam with no sugar!  If you are the type like me that just loves to pop straight berries into your mouth, then you appreciate a pure jam.  The amount of sugar in most jam recipes really freaks me out, so I love this stuff.  For those canning chemical compound nerds out there (like me?!) this is "LM" (low-methoxyl) pectin using dicalcium phosphate.  There are some other low/no sugar pectin powders out there, but they aren't quite the same, and the results aren't as reliable.  It can be hard to find, especially to have in stock this time of year but look in your local health/organic food store, and then remember next year to just order it online ahead of time - that's my lesson learned, I just got lucky as the only place in town to have it only had 2 boxes left.  The price here was $4.99, one box makes several batches.  This stuff can gel water!

I ended up with 13.5 pints of pure organic strawberry jam.  One batch was pure fruit and the other batch was made with just a touch (about 1/4 cup) organic cane sugar and drizzled with honey.

Had to come back and edit - what good is a jam post without a photo of the jam?

In all from 21 lbs of strawberries I ended up with 13.5 canned pints of jam, 2 gallon bags of frozen whole strawberries, 4 pints frozen pure strawberry puree and a tray of strawberry puree frozen into cubes and later into a freezer bag.  I find the cube size is perfect for adding into smoothies or flavoring a small batch of popsicles.  I always keep lots of puree in the freezer to add to our homemade strawberry ice cream too!

Pretty cost effective since even at the higher price this year of $1.59/lb we spent just over $33.00 on 21 pounds of berries turned into a year's worth of goodies and "fruit on a shelf"!

I hope you have all gotten your berry fix for now and can get those canning jars organized and supplies together, they will be coming soon to you if our early season is any indication!

Happy Picking!