Ah! Strawberries!

As much as I wanted to do strawberry picking earlier this season, especially since they came in early this year, life just wouldn’t allow it.   So today, I literally had an hour and a half to squeeze a memorable moment of picking in.  I grabbed my two oldest helpers and headed over to Brad’s Produce.  Strawberries are coming to an end at Brad’s but we were still able to pick 5 quarts for $1.75 a pound in about an hour.  Lohrs, Harman’s and Sunny Hill all still also have strawberries for pick you own.  So there are lots of options even if you are a late picker, like me.

I came home and made a quick batch of strawberry ice cream to enjoy after dinner.

The recipe I used was from the Cuisinart recipe book that came with the ice cream maker.

You can find it here.  This recipe contains lemon juice which adds a light, fresh note to the strawberry ice cream that I love. They actually say that you can add food coloring if you want a more pronounced pink color to the ice cream but there is truly no need for that.  It is a lovely delicate pink and very, very tasty!

After the kids went to bed, I set to making a double batch of strawberry freezer jam.  For all other jams and jellies I make them cooked but for some reason, maybe because my mom did it, I use the easy, freezer jam recipe for strawberries.  I think it maintains the bright strawberry flavor the best but that could be bias.  In any case it truly is easy to make but the process took about an hour.  I had picked 4 quarts of strawberries exactly for this purpose.  I washed and hulled them in a big bowl of water and with so many little, sweet berries, this step took longer than usual.

My preferred recipe is the low sugar Sure Gel recipe you can find here or inside the box of the low sugar Sure Gel pectin.  You use 3 c. of sugar per batch and since I made two batches that is 6 cups.  And yes, this is less sugar than the original version.  I find, again, that the strawberry flavors are more pronounced with using less sugar plus sugar is the most expensive ingredient in jam.  

For this recipe I used Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Sugar because it was what I already had in the house.  I do try to purchase things like tea, chocolate and sugar in their fair trade versions since they come from places that I can’t personally ensure the farmer is being supported and well treated.  You can learn more about fair trade through research such as Wikipedia.org

Whenever making jams and jellies be sure to always measure carefully. I will double a recipe but that is it (never triple or more) you run the risk of ruining the food or it just won’t set because not all recipes multiply well.

Now that these jams are finished, they will set on my counter for 24 hours and then store in the freezer for up to 1 year.  And with that my season of preserving has begun.

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