Strawberries, every which way.

by threegirlpileup

Strawberry season is in full swing around here, and we finally got out to do some picking this past week.  I’m finding that our spring has been unusually full, and it’s been harder to fit in all our favorite May activities.  I need to remember next year that this is one of our favorite months for lots of playing outside, and it makes sense to keep the calendar clearer.

Anyway, we finally did find some time to pick berries, and made it home with about 15 lbs.  A medium-sized amount by putting-up standards, really.  But I admit that it took me almost a full day to settle in and start processing the fruit.  I was a little paralyzed by the possibilities–freezing?  jam?  drying? fancy strawberry desserts?

I opted for a little of each.  On the top of my list was they drying, because dried strawberries were such a big hit last year.  I actually hid my store of dried strawberries away so that they would last more than a few weeks–I stingily parceled them out over the course of the winter, making them last as long as I could.  So I knew that one priority would be to get a load into the dehydrator.  It never ceases to amaze me how much food goes in to my (not all that big) dehydrator and how little comes out (I ended up with about 3 cups of dried fruit), but I also love that feeling of saving strawberry magic for the dark days of winter.  If I can just manage to hide the jar well enough, that is.

And I couldn’t have so many strawberries and not make at least one batch of jam, especially since strawberry is the only kind of jam that Anna will eat.  I have been experimenting more with no-pectin-added jams, so I tried this recipe.  I committed a jam-making sin and doubled the recipe, but it didn’t seem to do any harm, although the cooking time was longer.  I was really happy with how it came out–I love the soft, spoonable texture.  Anna was less thrilled; she loves the very low sugar jam that I can make with Pomona’s pectin.  So it looks like I’ll still be making another batch with her in mind.

By the time the drying and the jam were done (along with lots of just plain eating along the way), the berries were almost gone.  I managed to squeeze out one batch of strawberry ice cream (I used this recipe, leaving out the pomegranate juice and stirring in chopped strawberries at the end), and then put the rest in the freezer before they were past their prime.

It’s feast or famine.  In a matter of days, we go from having a ridiculous abundance of strawberries to none at all.  That’s fresh produce for you!  Fortunately, we are now getting some berries from our own garden, so that can hold us until we get out picking this coming week.  And then the cycle starts all over again.