I’ve spent all weekend on a mission to preserve strawberries. It’s strawberry season! On Sunday I drove to the Eastern Shore to pick strawberries. It was a long way to drive for fresh fruit, but now that it’s said and done, I’m glad I did it.
I’ve gone berry picking many times, but I think these were the bushiest strawberry plants ever! The rows were double planted and the walking rows were super narrow, these farmers mean business. One word of advice, chat up the person manning the register or passing out baskets. They can usually tell you the best place to start picking. The general rule of thumb however is to go as far back and as far from the parking area as possible. Most people just stop and start picking as soon as they see fruit. A second word of advice, wear comfortable shoes and clothes, my choice of flip flops as foot wear was not excellent. Make sure you use sunscreen, unless you want to look like the farmer. Bring water and snacks. You might also want a wet washcloth for cleaning up afterwards (my arms always itch after picking strawberries). And last but not least, don’t pick so much that you can’t carry it back to the register, I hit my carry limit and still had some difficulty getting everything to my car.
Before wrapping up for the night, I made a quick trip to hell Walmart to pick up some pectin and a few other things last night so that I would be prepared for canning today.
I planned on today being a busy day. I needed to get some chores done and wanted to get my canning done before the berries peaked. I also needed to make some bread. I love that I was doing three things at once this afternoon: laundry, bread and canning.
You may or may not have canned before. Here’s a little run down of how it went today.
First, the jars for both my projects were gathered and washed. The canning pot was filled half way with water and set on the stove. The first batch I made was strawberry preserves (think large chunks of strawberry suspended in strawberry syrup-sauce). These preserves are perfect for topping pound cake, cheesecake, yogurt or oatmeal. I like preserves because they use half the sugar of jam and no pectin. I made six 8oz jars of that. The next batch I made was strawberry jam. My jam is soft and spreadable, perfect for toast or croissants.
*I always re-read my recipe before I start, the last thing you was is to leave a stove of boiling sugar and fruit to find out what comes next. *
I took some pictures of the steps to making strawberry jam:
“Why is that can there?” You ask. Well, rather than buy a potato masher to mash fruit, my girlfriends over at Two Girls and a Hammer taught me to use a washed, ready to be recycled can. I think it does a great job of chopping and mushing. A tiny bit of butter is added to the strawberry mash to help reduce the amount of foam that forms on the surface while cooking.
Pull out and jars cool on a towel lined sheet pan or counter and leave undisturbed for 24 hours. Test to make sure that the seals have formed on all jars before storing. You’re supposed to eat these within a year, which gives you jam to eat until it is strawberry season again, if it lasts that long.
It was a hard day for the dogs too – they don’t like it to be so hot and steamy in the house:
I’m looking forward to trying other canning recipes this summer. We’re hoping to have enough tomatoes to eat BLTs and fresh salsa all summer and still have enough to can and make sauce. Like I said earlier though, I haven’t canned anything besides jams and chutneys before to DoingDomestic is going to have all kinds of firsts this summer. I hope you’ll keep checking for updates and share this harvesting journey with me!
On the Doing List for this summer:
From the U-pick: Blueberries, Tart Cherries & Peaches (preserved in many forms)
From the Decked Out Container Garden: Cucumbers (pickles), Tomatoes (whole, sauces & salsa) & Dilly Beans (pickled green beans)
Depending on how things go: Pumpkin Puree for pies and desserts all winter.