Strawberry season is over in these here parts, but I’m still going to talk about them. See, I took pictures and jotted notes for a post on the little lovelies but then time turned tail and ran and when I finally caught up to it, strawberries were done.
But these days I’m kind of frittered in my head, not sure what/how/why to write, so I’m going to toss out this little bit of old news any-old-how, in hopes that it gets my brainy (ha!) juices a-flowin’. Once I get this strawberry load off my chest, I hope I’ll feel freed up to talk about other things, like, um, all my deep dark secrets (shh), or maybe just peas. (Which I picked this morning, after a spat with Mr. Handsome and before my coffee, and after all that I was rewarded with only a few pathetic handfuls of shelled green goodness. I’m feeling dubious about the whole pea-growing endeavor, so tell me, is it crazy to grow peas? Discuss, please.)
My favorite recipe for strawberry jam is the basic freezer jam recipe, the one that comes in the pectin box.
I, however, buy my Dutch gel (same as sure-jell) in bulk and use ½ cup for each recipe.
This year I kept up my relationship with traditional jam and flirted with danger. My mother gave me two packs of low-sugar stuff to make freezer jam: the recipe called for four cups of mashed berries to 1 ½ cups sugar. The resulting jam was more preserve-like and less sweet (duh), but very delicious. Because it’s softer, it’s a great addition to plain yogurt, stirring in like a dream. (I forget the official name for The Stuff, thus the reason for my weird, hush-hush behavior.)
I employ three methods. All good, all different. Thus the reason there are three of them. See?
1. Crushed: mash up the berries, stir in a bit of sugar (one or two tablespoons per cup), spoon into containers (leaving room for expansion), label, and freeze.
2. Whole: spread topped berries on a rimmed cookie sheet that has been lined with wax paper, freeze for an hour, then dump all the berries into a big bag and return to the freezer. The berries don’t taste that great thawed but are excellent tossed into fruit smoothies in place of ice cubes.
3. Sliced: my favorite way to freeze berries is to top and slice them, pack them into plastic quart-sized containers, and sprinkle a scant quarter cup of sugar over top.
I label the lid “fresa” (Spanish for “strawberry”) because it’s faster to write and because I’m in no mood for making extra strokes by the time I’m packaging up the food.
And that’s it for strawberries. One year I canned some (the resulting berries are gross-looking, only good enough for smoothies, but the juice is spectacular, dark red and clean-tasting), and I usually dry some—a full dehydrator load yields 2 1/2 quarts of dried strawberry slivers, delicious on granola or in baked goodies.
About one year ago: Swiss Chard Rolls.