Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Crate of Strawberries ~ Miscellaneous Musings


"I had the agreeable surprise of finding several scarlet strawberries quite ripe – had you been at home, this would have been a pleasure lost!"

~ Jane Austen, Excerpt from Letter to sister Cassandra, 1811

We only purchase strawberries when they are in season and when we do, we make sure to stock up on them. Our aim is to preserve them to keep them usable for the duration of the year. Unfortunately, they still don't last long! 


Preparing frozen strawberries are always first on our list. We will use ours in our morning smoothies and blended with kombucha (my sister in law taught this to me, so tasty!). The best way to freeze your fruit is on trays or cookie sheets without them touching (after they are hulled). Once frozen, remove them from the tray and place them in a freezer bag or plastic container. Flash freezing (as this method is called) the strawberries first helps to keep them from sticking to each other so that you can grab a small amount of berries at a time when you need them.


We also tried something new this year and it is one of the healthiest ways you can preserve your berries (because everything is raw). The author calls it refrigerator jam but it can also be frozen. It is so simple to make! All you need are chia seeds, honey, strawberries and a blender. No cook, no hassle… just refrigerate and/or freeze your extras. I did about 4 quarts of this. Our freezer space is dwindling and so I decided to prepare the rest of the jam for our pantry.



In order to maximize the canning mess, I wanted to make sure we had enough jars to fill up our canner for a complete batch of jam. Using the low/no sugar pectin, here is the recipe I used which gave me approx. 7 pint jars of strawberry honey jam.
Process in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.

This was a good jam but it doesn't taste exactly like the regular sugar laden jam recipe that many of us are accustomed to (honey has a distinctly different flavor). My husband really liked it but I am ashamed to say that I might opt for the low-sugar recipe next time using a reduced amount of sugar instead of honey.


I also tried making another strawberry honey jam which doesn't require the purchased pectin. Shredded apples are added into the pot which is naturally high in pectin (the thickener for jams) because strawberries are low in pectin. This recipe came out very good, just keep an eye on it so that it doesn't burn because it does require more cooking time to get the desired consistency.




I also couldn't resist showing you my gingham canning lids. These were sent to me in the mail as a surprise gift! It was during the time of our move across the country (and leaving family and friends). I hardly knew this woman but her package arrived in the mail and I loved her instantly for her sisterly love. I haven't found these anywhere in the United States (this and this are the closest I came to them). I think she may have purchased them in Australia! What a special gift this was!


We also prepared some fruit leather with our left over strawberries. Dipping them in chocolate makes them into a delightful dessert. Might I also mention that the jam would be delicious in our fruit and cereal grain bar recipe? However, when all is said and done, our favorite way to utilize the strawberry is to eat them while they are still nice and fresh (and as much as we can)! They are "jam" packed with vitamin c so I find them to be the tastiest supplement in God's pharmacy!
"The Strawberry.—The flavor of antiquity rests upon the wild strawberry. Its fruit was peddled by itinerant dealers about the streets of ancient Grecian and Roman cities. Virgil sings of it in pastoral poems, and Ovid mentions it in words of praise. The name by which the fruit was known to the Greeks indicates its size; with the Latins its name was symbolic of its perfume. The name strawberry probably came from the old Saxon streawberige, either from some resemblance of the stems to straw, of from the fact that the berries have the appearance when growing of being strewn upon the ground. In olden times, children strung the berries upon straws, and sold so many "straws of berries" for a penny, from which fact it is possible the name may have been derived. The strawberry is indigenous to the temperate regions of both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, but it seems to have been matured in gardens, only within the last two centuries."
~ Science in the Kitchen by Mrs. E.E. Kellogg, 1893


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17 comments:

  1. Oh berries:) Not just candy for the taste buds, but eye candy as well. I never had luck freezing berries even though I froze them individually then bagged them. I recently learned that if you get all the air out of the bag (after they are frozen) it keeps them from getting all frosty. So, this year...I'll try again. (found a you-pick blue berry farm not far from here)
    Your gingham lids are adorable. A Grandma's kitchen & goodness to them.
    tootles

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    1. Yes, getting the air out helps with the frosty berries... And fresh blue-berries would be perfect for all these yummies too :) We froze a bunch of blueberries last year and I hated to see them go...

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    2. Have you tried freezing berries in jars? An older lady told me that she only freezes them in jars because they do not get frosty that way. I tried it and blueberries that I have had for 11 months have some frost inside the jar on the glass but the berries have kept amazingly well, better than I have ever seen.

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  2. Love all he beautiful photos of your strawberries. I have to admit (not altogether ashamed though) that I, too still use a bit of sugar in jams and such. And what is a cup of tea without it? Some jam recipes just aren't the same with honey. Low sugar is the way to go for us, keeping our portions minimal. We love strawberries have a number of plants, but a lot of the berries never make it to the kitchen. O.O Have a great Wednesday!

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    1. Glad to hear I am not the only one on the sugar! :) I do like the raw honey but cooked up with the strawberry jam just wasn't as tasty to me for some reason. I actually prefer the honey in my lemon marmalade. Go figure :)

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  3. Hello There! I am bopping over from Roxy's blog and I must say I love your blog! So, so precious!

    My family loves strawberries too! I buy a lot of them when they are on sale and then freeze them up. I use them for just about anything I can think of. I try to make something new each time. My mom in law, Roxy and I make up a few batches of strawberry jam each year and that is a must have around this home.

    I love your gingham lids. I love anything red and this would be perfect for my jars....

    Thank you so much for sharing.... I'll be back for your next post!

    Have a lovely day!

    Amy

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    1. Nice to meet you Amy! Red is a fun color in the kitchen and a favorite of mine too. Bulk is the way to go with seasonal fruit when they are nice and sweet! Thanks for sharing :)

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  4. enjoyed your post-thanks for the recipes-I really enjoy using the low sugar pectin now too-I use Ball's and works really well with no or very little sweetening

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    1. Hi there Kathy! I use the Ball as well as the Pomona pectin. Just depends on what I am trying to achieve :) I must say that the strawberry (no pectin) honey jam was pretty tasty if you are up for something new... Have a great week!

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  5. I'm not sure there's any food I love so much as fresh strawberries.I'm eager to try your recipe. You photographs are so brilliant in color -- I think I found droll on my key pad.

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    1. That is funny Pamela :) Thanks for stoppin in!

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  6. Strawberries are such a delicious and lovely fruit. I have also started making my jams and jellies with the low/no sugar pectin. I don't miss the sugar and it's so much better for me. I also flash freeze some of my fruit, which comes in handy for yogurt smoothies. Or, for a naughty treat, I will melt a little chocolate and dip my frozen strawberries in - yum!

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    1. Sounds like we share the same taste buds Vickie :)

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  7. Dear Jes, Your blog inspires us homemakers and keepers of our homes once again... Just say strawberry shortcake and I will say why "Yes Thank You"
    Really what a great post on preserving our strawberries! I have never used honey in my jam making!
    Have a great weekend!
    Roxy

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  8. Lovely as always. We canned about 25 half pints of strawberry jam last year and still have a few on the shelves. Not sure if I'll be able to go strawberry picking this year, but I might try...who knows, it might get this baby out faster!

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  9. Lovely! Thanks for sharing this at our HomeAcre Hop!

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  10. Thanks Jes for sharing the complete, unabridged blog post about strawberries. I particularly enjoyed the section about strawberry history, quotation from Jane Austen, and the beautiful photos you include. I saw it at http://simplelifemom.com/2015/05/26/homestead-blog-hop-32/#AEFMJ7pQywl8YCmr.99, where my post is. "Organic Oven Baked Cottage Fries To Live For." Sure hope you get a chance to read it. Warm regards, Nancy A. @obloggernewbie.blogspot.com

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