Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Swimming in Strawberries

Right about now I'm wondering if I'm up for another round with the berries. I've safely processed, prepared or consumed the entire 18 quarts our family picked on Canada Day. I absolutely adore strawberries, and nothing can compare to the taste of a freshly picked, sun-warmed berry; however, any sort of serious berry picking effort means a large commitment in the days afterwards since berries will only last a couple of days in the fridge. We may go back and pick another 24 quarts if we can squeeze it in by the end of the week. Our local farm offers a deal that if you pick six 6 quart baskets over the course of the picking season, you get the seventh free, and the frugal part of me doesn't want to miss out on getting $10 worth of free berries!

Here are some of my favourite ways to enjoy one of the great tastes of summer:

Jam - I made 3 batches this year. Once you have some experience, you can whip up a batch in about an hour. I use the standard Certo recipe; for some reason everyone tells me my jam is fabulous and wants to know my "secret". I just follow the directions, LOL!

Muffins - Strawberries are a great substitute for rhubarb in these muffins! If you are lucky enough to have both strawberries and rhubarb handy, use half and half for a scrumptious strawberry-rhubarb muffin.

Spinach-Strawberry Salad - always a hit for a potluck dinner

Strawberry Shortcake - I bake the old-fashioned kind, in one large pan, rather than individual biscuits. I prefer to add very little sugar to the strawberries themselves - just a sprinkle to draw out the natural juices.

Once I've got the jam all safely tucked away, and we've all eaten our fill of fresh berries, I freeze the rest on cookie sheets overnight, then transfer them to plastic freezer bags for long-term storage. Frozen berries are perfect for a fresh-tasting smoothie all winter long!

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