Saturday, June 13, 2009
My friend Flip Flopping Mamma hails from the deep south. Okay, not so deep but deep enough compared to me that I can tease her. On one of her many 8-hour drives (ugh!) down to visit her family she offered to bring many of us back local, organic strawberries! Being much further south, the berries are already in season down there. So many of us took her up on the offer that their truck was probably weighed down in the back and smelled like a strawberry field.
The berries are beautiful. They are so incredibly tender. They couldn't really offer these in a grocery store because they simply wouldn't travel well across country or world. So soft and juicy they melt in your mouth!
Here's how to preserve some of that yummy fresh goodness for wintertime. A bag of these in January will put a smile on your face!
To wash a huge amount of strawberries like this, I've found it's easiest to use your kitchen sink. Just clean the sink with soap & water then fill with cold water. Carefully pour in the strawberries.
Next, swish them gently around. The kids can do this and think it's great fun! Of course, they enjoy popping them in their mouths at every opportunity. :-)
Next, I like to dry mine. I freeze them in bags and sometimes we pull them out individually. I don't want them to stick together in one mass. If they are wet when you bag them, the water will freeze them together and they'll end up in one blob. I lay towels out and gently lay the strawberries in a single layer for an hour or so. I place on towel on top as well.
Next comes stemming. We like to use spoons to pull out the stem but you could use a small paring knife as well. My husband helped me with this step. When I asked if I could take his picture for my blog, he ripped off his shirt and spiked it to the ground like a football player. Then he sucked in his stomach and posed for me. Seriously. I layed on the floor laughing. It was the funniest thing I've seen him do in a long time.
Next, just put them in freezer bags. I like to only fill the freezer bags (quart size) about halfway full. This way, I can lay them down flat after forcing the air out. The strawberries are then in a single layer. Perfect for laying flat in the freezer.
A week after these strawberries came in a local grocery store ran a special on theirs for 49 cents a pound. That is not a typo. 49 cents! I've never in my life seen strawberries so cheap. Once put up, frozen berries or canned jam will last a few years at least. I bought 40 pounds. I am a glutton for punishment. :-)
We froze a bit more whole, but the bulk of the berries went into some great treats. Thanks to my friend Yarn Over for a great idea: healthy popsicles! I simply pureed a batch with a dash of sugar. Then poured it into ice cube trays with a popsicle stick in each compartment. These can later be removed frozen from the trays and tossed into a big freezer bag.
After tasting the delicious puree, I had a brainstorm. This mix would be awesome for strawberry margaritas. So I froze a bunch in freezer bags. When we want to make a batch, we can toss the frozen puree in a blender with some tequila. Probably will make the most delicious margaritas we've ever had.
I also made some strawberry jam. 14 pints worth. By this time, my mom had gotten wind of my endeavors and stopped by to get in on the action. Oh, it takes little to please us! :-)