Friday, June 26, 2009

What Are You Going to Do With All Those Strawberries?

It's strawberry season! There's nothing quite as delicious as fresh, ripe strawberries. I've been buying them at the farmers market the past few weeks — they are so sweet and juicy I don't ever want to eat imported greenhouse strawberries from the supermarket again. But, as you may know, strawberry season is short, and they won't last forever. This weekend, pick your own or buy fresh from a farmstand or farmers market, and buy a lot!

What are you going to do with all those strawberries? Eat some fresh, of course, maybe make some strawberry pancakes or strawberry pie or strawberry shortcake, freeze some, and preserve some as jam or jelly. Below are a few recipes from Storey's Country Bulletin Jams, Jellies & More.

Spiced Strawberry Jam
Easy to prepare, this is spicier than most strawberry jams.

5 cups crushed strawberries (about 2 quarts cleaned and stemmed)
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 box (1¾ ounces) powdered fruit pectin
½ teaspoon butter or margarine
7 cups sugar

1. in an 8-quart saucepan, combine the strawberries and the spices. Add the pectin and butter. Bring to a full boil on high heat, stirring constantly.
2. Stir in the sugar and mix well. Return to a full boil and boil for 1 minute exactly, stirring constantly.
3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and, using a metal spoon, skim off any foam.
4. Ladle into sterile half-pint jars (*see below), leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Cap and seal. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling-water-bath canner. Adjust for altitude, if necessary.

Yield: 5 half pints

Baked Low-Sugar Strawberry Jam
Raspberries and blackberries can also be made into jam using this method.

8 cups strawberries, washed, drained, patted dry, and halved
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Combine all the ingredients in a 2-quart casserole dish and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325°F. Bake for another 1–1½ hours, stirring often.
3. To test for setting, let a spoonful of the jam cool then test using one of the methods described on pages 7–8. If the jam is too runny, return it to the oven and bake again at 325°F for up to 45 minutes longer, then test again for thickening.
4. Pack the finished jam in clean half-pint freezer cartons (*see below). Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 6 months.

Yield: 3 half pints

Strawberry-Rhubarb Jelly
This jelly, adapted from a USDA recipe, is a southern tradition.

1½ pounds red rhubarb stalks, washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1½ quarts strawberries, washed, hulled, and crushed
6 cups sugar
6 ounces liquid fruit pectin

1. Purée the rhubarb in a blender or food processor.
2. Prepare a jelly bag by pouring boiling water through it. Squeeze out the excess moisture. Line the bag with a double layer of cheesecloth.
3. Place both fruits in the bag, let drain into a bowl, and squeeze gently to remove the excess juice.
4. Measure 3½ cups of strained juice into a 3-quart saucepan. Add the sugar, mix thoroughly, and boil until the sugar dissolves.
5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pectin. Return to the heat and bring to a full boil. Boil for exactly 1 minute.
6. Remove from the heat and, with a metal spoon, skim off any foam. Ladle the jelly into sterile half-pint jars (*see below), leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Cap and seal. Process in a boiling-water-bath canner for 5 minutes. Adjust for altitude, if necessary.

Yield: 7 half pints

*Preparing Jars and Lids
The jars you use for jams, jellies, and other preserves must be canning jars free of cracks and chips. Jars made for commercial fruit spreads should never be reused, as they may not withstand long exposure to high temperatures in the boiling-water bath.
Most recipes call for half-pint jars with a two-piece lid consisting of a new metal vacuum lid and a new or reused metal screw ring that holds the lid in place during processing. You can remove the screw ring 24 hours after canning. If left on the jar, the screw lid may rust, in which case you will not be able to use it again. If the ring is stuck, however, don’t force it or you may break the seal; simply leave it in place. Do not tighten the ring after processing — this, too, may break the seal.
It is not necessary to sterilize jars used for food that is processed in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes or longer. Simply wash the empty jars in soapy water or the dishwasher, then rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of soap. Keep lids and rings in gently boiling water until you are ready to use them.
For boiling-water-bath processing times of less than 10 minutes, you must sterilize the prewashed jars. Fill them with hot tap water, then submerge them in a canner filled with hot (not boiling) water, making sure the water rises 1 inch above the jar tops. At sea level, boil the jars for 10 minutes; at higher elevations, boil for an additional minute for every 1,000 feet above sea level. Use a jar lifter to remove one sterilized jar at a time, then fill immediately with the prepared fruit spread.

I plan on giving the baked jam a try. Let me know what you made or what you did to preserve your strawberries.

Kristy L. MacWilliams, Storey Marketing Manager

No comments: