Sunday, June 26, 2011

Under the Strawberry Moon

By mid- June I have berry-stained fingers. It’s strawberry time: my first big push for food preservation. It’s very rewarding. Strawberries are such a delight all year round. Over the past week or so I have dehydrated eight quarts. Each quart yields a cup or so of dehydrated strawberries. They store well in the pantry. I made a note in my food journal, so I can track whether I dehydrated enough. I keep notes each year to help me to plan.

To dehydrate strawberries, remove the stems then wash and pat them dry. Slice them up to one half inch thick and place them seed side down on the dehydrator trays. My dehydrator has a fruit setting, and that is what I used. It took nearly 24 hours because I had to turn it down for a while when I was away during the day. I check them every few hours and turn them around if they are starting to stick to the trays. Near the end, I pull out the smaller pieces that are finished and let the others remain until done. I will use them in muffins, oatmeal, and perhaps make a trail mix.

I also made freezer jam –this is very easy. So easy that you really have no reason not to make freezer jam this year. Pectin even comes in small packages; each making two jars. So you can make jams from many fruits throughout the season. Essentially you combine the sugar and pectin; then add fruit. Stir for three minutes, ladle into jars, and let it sit for one half hour before putting into the freezer. No canning. But, really it is not that difficult to cook and can jam. And, here is a link from a fellow west Michigan blogger for making microwave jam any time with fresh or frozen berries.

Freezing strawberries is easy and they come in handy throughout the year. They can be mashed and frozen in plastic containers for use on ice cream or short cake. I prefer to freeze them whole; their use is a bit more flexible than already mashed berries. To freeze whole strawberries, remove the stems then wash and pat them dry. Put them on cookie sheets in a single layer. Place them in the freezer for several hours until frozen. Store them in plastic bags. By freezing them individually, you can pull out as much as you need. They are great in smoothies.

Of course constant strawberry eating is essential in Michigan in June. This morning I made cinnamon toast rolls. For the icing, I mashed two strawberries through a hand strainer and caught the juice in a small bowl. I mixed that with powdered sugar and drizzled it onto the rolls.

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