July 17, 2010

Sample In A Jar

dehydrated strawberries

A teeny tiny bit ago, I had a post where I mentioned the crazy amounts of strawberries Champ and I had picked: it spurred a few questions from some of you.

Since you were kind enough to ask and since Bear and I wolfed down the remaining bit of our “first of the season” jam jar this morning, I figure hey, why not?  


So now, I present to you...

“TJ’s Strawberry Tutorial” (aka- what on God’s green Earth did she do with 50lbs of strawberries?!)

1.We ate a few pounds before I could even process them some

2. I dehydrated some

Do you have a food dehydrator?  I was given mine by my Gram who didn’t need it anymore.  If you don’t have a Gram with a dehydrator to give, try scouring thrift shops and tag sales.  I’ve seen a bunch this summer already and most of the time they’re $10.00 or less: well worth the investment!  You could also run your oven on it’s lowest setting- check the Internet for tips on that.
Anyway, to dehydrate- I rinse and hull the strawberries.  Next I cut them in half (sometimes thirds if they’re thick) and toss them on the dehydrating tray.  I click the thing on and then I wait- A day and a half to two days later I have scrumptious strawberry morsels ready to be added to homemade granola, muffins or trail mix.  I store the strawberries in a large mason jar.

3.  I froze some

This year I froze 4 gallons of the red gems.  I began by rinsing and hulling the berries.  Then I contemplated slicing them, but instead threw them into ziplock bags whole as I knew I’d be using the majority of them in smoothies throughout the year.  
Do you know that trick of sucking the extra air out of the bag with a straw right before sealing it all the way?  Makes it vacuum packed fresh every time!

4. I canned some jam.  In fact, I doubled the recipe 

I’m a jam girl, not jelly.  I like seeing the fruit in there.  In the middle of winter when I’m smearing jam on my toast, I see those bits of berries and am transported back to the summery fields where I had picked them. 
I’m also a canning girl, but not a canning recipe follower, so let me show you the recipe below (incase you ARE a recipe follower) and then tell ya what I did (incase you’re not):

Strawberry Jam (makes about 9 half pint jars)
4C hulled and crushed strawberries (about 2 qts)
2T lemon juice
7C sugar
1/2t butter
1 (3oz) pouch liquid pectin
In a pot, combine the strawberries, lemon juice and sugar.  Let stand for 2 hrs.  Then heat and stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves.  Stir in butter and bring to a full rolling boil.  Stir in pectin.  Keep boiling for a full minute. stirring constantly.  Remove from pan and skim off any foam.  Allow jam to cool 5 minutes then fill and process jars for 10 minutes.

*from “Blue Ribbon Preserves” by Linda Amendt

Field notes: I don’t add butter.  I don’t use lemon juice- instead I’m sure to add in a few under ripe strawberries to balance the flavor and add acidity.  I don’t get along with liquid pectin, so I only use the powdered kind (sometimes the fruit has enough pectin in it that you don’t even need to add in any extra).  I NEVER use 7C sugar.  I seem to hover at about 3-4C; I determine how much I need when the jam is beginning it’s first boil. sweeten it to taste since whatever it tastes like here, it will taste like when it’s a finished product, too.  (The lesser amount of sugar never seems to effect whether or not the pectin sets).  It’s true- I like bits of fruit in my jam, but if they’re too big then it doesn’t spread well.  To remedy this, I use my Magic Bullet (well it’s a Bella Cucina, but same thing) to shred up the fruit a little bit before beginning the jam making process.  As for the jars themselves- I don’t use half pints for this recipe because they don’t hold enough jam in my opinion!  For this recipe, 4 pint jars should be the same as 8 half pint jars.  I usually boil one more jar than I think I need, that way, if I do need it, I can fill it to whatever level, store it in the fridge and use it as my “house jam” for the present moment.

And that my friends, solves "The Case of the Multiple Strawberries".

PS: My title today  is from a Phish song.  It really doesn’t have much to do with canning I suppose, but it’s a well loved song of mine, none the less


Colleen said...

Sounds delicious! The only thing that I've ever canned is apple butter. Fortunately, Leslie does a bit more canning and made some yummy strawberry jam that she so nicely shared with me.

Do you dehydrate many things other than strawberries?

Jenilee said...

yummy! my husband wants a dehydrator for his hot peppers that he grows. but strawberries would be really good too!

Jess said...

I've been wanting to try dehydrating strawberries. BUT never seem to have a million pounds of them lying around like you did!

Anyway... I've heard you can pulverize dehydrated strawb in your blender and use them to make shakes too! (Smoothies is a great idea as well)

Leslie said...

one year we picked about 100 dollars worth and i felt responsible not to let them go to waste at all...so i made strawberry bread, shortcake, jam, froze some....put them in everything. but i did not waste them thank goodness. dehydrating them sounds like a great idea....good on cereal?? love the jam. i made some this summer after picking one afternoon. i don't add the butter either...just skim the top a little.

Emmy said...

Oh now I want to go buy strawberries!

Kate said...

This confirms once and for all you have waaaay much more energy than I.

That said, I'm getting me a dehydrator. Thanks for the inspiration.

Erin said...

You are officially Martha Stewart in the making. Thank you for sharing and I am printing this out for next time!!!!


Susan said...

Wow - dehydrated Strawberries! I am definitely going to try this now.

I would bet they would be great in summer salads. I use other dried fruits but never a strawberry.

Thanks for the excellent post!


Katherine said...

I love love LOVE strawberries! I have a food dehydrator... I'm going to have to try that!

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I love that homemade strawberry jam! Fortunately, my mother-in-law makes some every Christmas. Score!

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