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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Strawberry Kind of Day

Ontario strawberries are now in season.  The season will last for about 10 days depending on the weather.  This year's berries a gorgeous!  Many of them are almost the size of a golf ball.  The beautifully coloured red berries certainly don't disappoint with their nice and juicy, deep strawberry flavour.  We will be eating a lot of strawberries this year!

flat of strawberries
My husband picked up a flat of strawberries for me.  A flat of strawberries now contains 6 quarts of strawberries.  The going rate for a flat of already picked berries is $18.  If picking at the U-pick, a flat will cost $15 which doesn't sound like a lot of savings but for those putting up a lot of strawberry products the U-pick is preferred.  Picking strawberries is easy and goes quickly so picking enough for two or three flats can be done is about an hour or less if you have a pair of helping hands.

I sort the berries as I wash and hull them into three sizes: small, medium and large.  The small berries are best for jam making, medium berries are for freezing and the large ones are for fresh eating.  I use this same sort as I clean method for other produce like mushrooms.  
prepping berries for freezing
Freezing strawberries is quite easy!  I simply wash and hull the berries.  After being patted dry I arrange the berries in a single layer on a baking pan.  I place the filled baking pan into the freezer.  Once the berries are frozen I remove them from the baking sheet an place them into a zipper style freezer bag with as much air as possible removed.

Normally I prefer to vacuum seal foods for the freezer.  However, quite often I want only a couple of berries to pop into fruit smoothies.  Zipper style freezer bags make it easy to remove only a couple of berries without having to re-vacuum seal.  The yield for the frozen berry portion was a one gallon bag of strawberries.

strawberry jam
I made a batch of low sugar strawberry jam making two modifications to the recipe.  I increased the sugar to 3 cups from the 2 cups.  Since I am using Pomona's pectin, a low methoxy pectin that uses calcium water for achieving the gel rather than sugar, modifying the amount of sugar does not affect the gel.  Sugar adds sweetness, bulk and texture in jams.  The extra cup of sugar was just enough to give a yield of 4 - 500 ml (pint) jars with a couple of tablespoons left-over.  The second modification I made was adding a teaspoon of pure vanilla.  Vanilla pairs nicely with strawberries heightening the flavour and giving it just that little extra special nuance.

vanilla strawberries
I used the largest berries to make a simple glazed strawberry dessert.  The glaze is very easy to make by pouring vanilla sugar over the berries then covering and setting in the refrigerator for an hour or so.  The berries can then be used as is or topped with fresh whipping cream or vanilla flavoured yogurt.  They can also used as a topping for vanilla ice cream or gelato.  The glazed berries can also be chopped then stirred into vanilla flavoured yogurt then poured into popsicle molds for a healthy, kid friendly summer treat.  Notice again I'm pairing vanilla with strawberry then layering the vanilla flavour.  These two flavours really go nice together! 

2 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

Thanks! :)

Garden Gnome said...

You're welcome :)